Saturday, September 04, 2010

First Thoughts: iTunes Ping

So far, I'm not impressed with Apple's new social networking service, Ping (included in the latest version of their iTunes software).

I've already run into two technical dislikes with Ping:

First, it doesn't seem to support multiple profiles. One iTunes account, one profile on Ping.

Our household uses one iTunes account for the whole family. If we each had an iPod or other "digital rights management"-afflicted device, multiple accounts might make sense. We don't, so it doesn't.

So, Ping is set up with my name, my photo ... and by default the musical preferences of the entire family, although I can intervene to adjust that.

Multiple profiles makes sense. It would probably enhance music sales.

Presumably the efficient cost of any single profile to Apple in terms of storage, CPU time, etc. approaches zero -- the server overhead, bandwidth, etc. are distributed across a lot of customers. Allowing up to five profiles wouldn't break the bank or anything.

With multiple profiles, I could talk bluegrass and 60s garage punk with my Ping friends, under my name, with my photo; Daniel could discuss Green Day, Lady Gaga, etc. without a picture of his old man appearing next to his posts; etc.

Secondly, the preferences aren't very granular. I can choose whether to be open to being "followed" by everyone, or only allowing people I want as "followers." I can choose what kind of music to "feature" in my profile. But if I'm reading the options right, once I have a "follower," I don't control whether or not that "follower" gets notified that I bought "Gold: Abba's Greatest Hits" or "ZooFest 2009: The Sounds of Wimmin Having Sex with Farm Animals."

Those are the things I found and did not like in the first ten minutes.

The bigger problem for me is figuring out why Ping makes any sense in the first place.

I know why it makes sense to Apple -- they think that that there social networking stuff will increase sales.

But why would it make sense to me? I'm already a member of any number of social networks (though honestly the only one I make much use of is Facebook), and I can discuss music on any or all of them. I can discuss everything else, too ... whereas on Ping it looks like I'm limited to showing off what albums I bought, what groups I like, and maybe writing some reviews of same.

I may mess around with Ping some more, but so far it's 10% not so good and 90% yawn.

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