Posted September 5, 2010 4:43 am by with 6 comments

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Apple says that more than one million users joined their new music-focused social network Ping in the 48 hours following its launch. I find that hard to believe. I do believe that people will flock like seagulls on a chip bag to a hot new social media site even though they can’t keep up with the ones they’re already on. I do believe that people will jump at the idea of a music-based network (take that Myspace!) especially one brought to you buy the maker of the iPod.

What I have trouble with is the fact that when I sign on to Ping, I can’t find more than twenty people using the site. Those that I did find were all in the music biz. What gives?

When you first log on, Ping has a Facebook appearance but once you start mucking around it’s not very user friendly. For the network to have any meaning, you have to have followers and followees but short of searching the name of everyone I know, there’s no way to find people you want to connect with. I understand that Ping was planning on having a Facebook connect option but Facebook did an about-face before launch.

On a purely visual level, the Ping window doesn’t fit on my screen, even after I resize the sidebar as far as it will go. The far right, which is where the tools are, is cut off unless I scroll over and that’s just not going to happen. I’m not missing anything important, but it’s annoying.

What’s even more annoying is the fact that Ping is part of iTunes, not the web. I don’t open iTunes every day, and I guess, that’s behavior Apple wants to change. Still, there’s no doubt that I would “Ping” more often if I could do it from the web.

The biggest problem is you can’t DO anything other than promote sales. Now, here’s where I tread lightly, because this is a blog for marketers. As I moved around the site, I found that all of the status updates were notations of cds bought or reviews, both of which came with a prominent buy this button next to the CD graphic. Most lines had little or no additional information so it was like looking at someone’s wish list or shopping cart.

I understand that artists can add other updates to their pages, but the average user can’t. Where’s the “social” in this social media site? I assumed I’d be able to leave comments about my favorite artists, click on a song to “like” it, and easily locate other fans of the same song so we can connect. If that functionality is there then it’s well hidden.

And who decided to call it Ping? That’s not a sound I associate with music. Why not Sing or Zing?

I wish I had come in here to say what a great new marketing space Ping is for anyone in the music industry but right now, not so much. Will that change in the near future? I think it will.  Fortune has a great article with their thoughts on how Ping can be saved and it includes links to some of the best rants written so far. If Apple listens to what’s being said and makes some major changes in the next month, then marketers might hear ka-ching instead of feeling the sting when they join up with Ping.

  • Not having jumped on the “have to have it as soon as it’s announced” bandwagon, I can only guess what’s up with the numbers. From your excellent description of the issues, it sounds like maybe a million people DID join, then most proceeded to dump it. 🙂 Of course they wouldn’t advertise the bail-out rate, because hey, that would be honest. 🙂 And thanks to your article, I see I’m not missing anything.

    • Cynthia

      I wasn’t going to jump on either but when I heard the rumblings I had to look for myself. I’m surprised that they ended up this far away from anything exciting or usable. It will be interesting to see where it is a month from now.

      In the meantime, it’s already become a forest of abandoned accounts kinda like MySpace.

  • I think Alan could be right. Quite a few people probably tried it out as soon as it was released but later decided it wasn’t for them.

  • Tom

    Because it’s connected to Apple’s devices it’s easy to open an account and therefore easy to get 1 million “members”. I habitually opened iTunes and after few clicks I became a member, but after browsing around I left them and very unlikely will return. As you say: Where is the “social” in this social media site? It’s more a shameless money making site. No charm, no esprit.

  • Matt Inertia

    The Facebook connect denial is for me the biggest blow that could have happened to this. Skype has it, and it’s firmly entrenched me in Skype usage a while back. Most people (even the less tech savvy people out there) have a facebook account rammed full of friends from family to their favourite clubs etc. If I was itunes i’d be seriously thinking about how they can get FB to hook up the link. Do you reckon it was something to do with the Facebook/Bing relationship that stopped the colab?

    • Cynthia

      There’s this:
      Ultimately, initial talks between Apple and Facebook failed, because of Facebook terms that CEO Steve Jobs described as “onerous,” according to numerous reports.. Nevertheless, Apple reportedly tried to implement Facebook integration into Ping without authorization, according to AllThingsD. But it didn’t take long for Facebook to figure out Apple’s ploy, and Ping was soon cut off from Facebook.

      Plus notes that Facebook was afraid of the initial hit their servers would take in the rush to sign up. Apparently that was smart thinking on their part. But they needn’t fear that now.

      I hope they get it worked out because the idea of a music (and TV and movie to some extent) themed social network is a good one