Along with its raft of updates to the iPod and the revamp of the Apple TV, Apple also announced iTunes 10. As expected by many pundits, iTunes 10 includes social networking, called Ping by Apple. Now many were hoping that Ping would be Apple’s response to Facebook and the like. However, its really more like the social networking features within Last FM and Spotify than Facebook. At least for now, Facebook has nothing to fear from Ping.
So, exactly what is Ping and is it a game-changer? Well, Steve Jobs claimed it is “like Facebook meets Twitter meets iTunes” and that’s a pretty good description (as you’d expect, coming from Steve). So, it allows you to follow friends, share what music your are listening to and allows you to be notified when artists you are following announce concert dates and the like.
Its available now in 23 countries (around 160 million iTunes users). Whether it will catch on depends. For instance, my daughter (aged 14) is an avid listener of music on her iPod touch (not the latest one) and on her Mac. She uses Last FM and Spotify. She already uses the social networking features of both (Last FM in particular) and she has come right out and said that she hardly ever uses iTunes, except to sync her iPod touch. So I guess Ping will not be gaining her as a fan anytime soon. My feeling is that she isn’t alone and that Apple will have a hard time persuading many music lovers to use it on a regular basis. Certainly, I can’t see it replacing Last FM and Spotify for many users in the short-term, especially those who don’t own a Mac.
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