Ping: Apple’s Dismal Foray into Social Media

by Hadley Stern Sep 07, 2010

Apple is a company renowned for the sheer intuitiveness of its products. The first Macintosh was a marvel in user experience. The first iPod was a delight to navigate around, it all made sense! This delight is what's hooked me and so many others over the years. Imagine my shock, then, when I had to turn to Google to figure out how to Ping a song.

Me, the author of iPod and iTunes Hacks. Me, the person people come to with questions. At first I attributed it to having turned 39. Or to our youngest child who has had the propensity to wake up multiple times in the night as she moves from a crib to a bed.

This has never happened to be before with an Apple product. I just couldn't figure it out intuitively. After reading through Google and reading, of all things, a PCMag review I was able to get a handle on it. In short, Ping is completely fucked. Now, I try to avoid profanity when writing, but there is simply no other way to put it.

Here are the 5 ways Ping is fucked.

1. You can't Ping songs in your playlist

This stuns me, and was my problem from the ping I tried to use Ping. Intuition, and using Pandora and Youtube, led me to believe that to Ping a song I select something to play, and if I like it while listening to it, there would be some kind of Ping button somewhere. But I couldn't find it. I clicked here, I clicked there. I even right-clicked, thinking maybe Apple went all Microsoft and made Ping available only on right-click. Nothing. At first I thought it was because I wasn't following someone, but even after that I couldn't Ping a song.

2. No Social integration in inviting

Apple, there are these two sites called Facebook and Twitter. There are also things like Foursquare and Gowalla. They have this really neat feature that allows you to connect to friends. People in the know call this one's social graph. I've already expended a lot of effort building that up on Facebook and Twitter and now all I get with Apple is a mail form box.

OK, that sucks. But at least there is a mail box with a Mail icon. I mean, it must be integrated with my Mac address book, right?

Wrong. So not only can't I use Facebook, but I have to manually open up address book and cut and paste my friend's email address book?

Forget it.

3. You can't ping outside the iTunes store

This one is related to number 1. You can't ping anything unless it's in the iTunes store. Now the iTunes store has a fabulous collection, but there is a lot of music that isn't on there. I want to see music that friends are listening to, that isn't just on Ping. And it is completely unnatural for me to troll around the iTunes store Pinging stuff that is already in my library.

So how the hell did this happen? Simple. Social is to Apple what design is to Microsoft, something Apple just does not get. Yes Ping has basic elements of social in it, but these elements are devoid of the real meaning of social. Facebook has absolutely nothing to worry about. But Apple has a lot to worry about.

Facebook already is leaps and bounds ahead of Apple in terms of making music social. Right now on my wall I can see what friends are listening to on Pandora. What they are watching on YouTube. And more. Apple lost a huge opportunity to truly embrace the phenomena of Social Media. Here are the features Ping should have, and I'm guessing the product manager for Ping probably wanted these, but came up against the culture of Apple.

1. Ping any song, movie, app, anywhere anytime.

2. Have that Ping be tweetable, and show up on Facebook.

3. Add location for songs! I'm listening to xyz at 100 main street. Integrate with Gowalla and Foursquare.

4. Make available a Ping api for other application developers to write applications against or integrate into Facebook, Twitter, etc.

5. Use Facebook connect for Twitter's api so I can use that identity for Ping.

These are just some ideas that Apple should have considered, and should now quickly consider if they want Ping to succeed. And a lot is at stake. As more and more people come to use Facebook and Twitter as their primary personal communication tool, Apple is currently left out of the game.  Building some kind of social utility into your own silo isn't social. It's bullshit. And it will fail.


  • Typical, not even giving Apple a chance to develop the service before you rip it to shreds.

    What was FaceBook like when it was launched?

    Parky had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 51
  • I thought that Apple had to drop Facebook integration at the last minute because Facebook refused to let them use the API? Apple surely demonstrated Ping with FB integration.

    I agree with all your recommendations, but I think that they have some time to do this. It took a while for most of the social network sites to get third party APIs, etc., worked out. I do think that it’s silly that this is only available within iTunes (or on an iOS device), but it’s still early.

    Apple surely is not shy about releasing a product or technology if it in not 100% feature ready. OS X was basically an alpha release when it came out; the original iPod had no iTunes for Windows for years (I think is supported Musicmatch, or something, after a while), and no store for years, either.  The iPhone had no apps when it was first released.

    I think is Ping stays what it is now, it’s doomed to failure. We’ll see what Apple does with it.

    doogald had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 4
  • Spot on.  The point is, Ping is nothing about social networking, it’s all about an attempt to increase sales in the iTunes store by allowing friends to share tracks they’ve just bought.  It’s another form of advertising, an area Apple has woken up to with iAds.  Once you realise that, the limitations make perfect sense.

    Paul Howland had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 38
  • My son Derek Evry has two great albums on the iTunes Store, but he is not yet allowed to set up an “Artist” account on Ping. Apparently, this is by invitation only, for the artists that Apple wants to push. This is truly not social media. Also, Apple’s “recommendations” for me to follow included Lady Gaga. They obviously know nothing about me or even looked at my purchase record. They’re just pushing whoever they want to push…

    revry had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 4
  • I haven’t looked up ping capabilities.  The term “social media” implied that I wouldn’t be interested.  I don’t use Genius either, so I use iTunes 10 just the way I have used earlier versions.

    Howard Brazee had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 54
  • This is the first since I started using iTunes years ago that I didn’t immediately download the upgrade. There is nothing I‘m looking forward to about Ping, or even the new iTunes grayed out design. Plus, since Apple took away, I am seriously avoiding any iTunes music purchases. Lala was a great web based music site, and since Apple hasn’t deemed it necessary to replace it, so fuck Ping.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Sep 07, 2010 Posts: 47
  • [url=“”]hdmi to component cable
    “Apple surely is not shy about releasing a product or technology” - AGREE!

    deegweed had this to say on Aug 09, 2011 Posts: 2
  • Let’s give Apple a chance to improve Ping. I agree with the earlier post that it will take some time before this will be appreciated because of the improvements (hopefully) done with this. Let’s hope the best. - Guy Riordan

    Guy Riordan had this to say on Aug 31, 2011 Posts: 11
  • My opinion is that any social media experts would agree with you on this matter. Today, social networks are very important and the network who has more options and it’s easy to use, well, that network will have a lot of success. It’s not that complicated: give people freedom and make it easy to use:))

    annekingsy had this to say on Oct 15, 2011 Posts: 22
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