Ping: The Basement of the iTunes Store

11/06/2010

Since Apple introduced Ping, I have commented on the service, pointing out what’s there and what’s not, and I made some suggestions as to how Apple could make Ping a success. But it seems like Ping is not doing too well, given that Apple’s been sending e-mails reminding users of its features, even after Apple added visible Ping buttons to your iTunes music library.

So, with all this, I’ve been asking around, and looking at the profiles of those people I follow, to see if Ping is catching on. Sure, I see every purchase my friends make from the iTunes Store; that’s automatic. But aside from that, most of the people I know don’t use Ping. When I queried a number of them, they all said that they basically forgot about it. A few post comments on songs or albums, but it seems that, from my limited inquiries, Ping is getting a big shrug.

To be fair, I and my friends may not be the Ping demographic. While many of the people I follow are near my age group (verging on “old”), there are quite a few in their 20s who I follow, and they, too, seem pretty Ping-inactive.

Not only do people not seem to be using it much, but when I went to look at Ping today, I looked at the artists that Apple recommends I follow. The first five have between zero and three followers; when I clicked though to the list, the majority of the artists listed were below ten followers. Either popular artists aren’t creating profiles, or Apple’s recommendation engine is off the tracks. Because none of these artists have anything to do with music I’m interested in, and in the full list, there’s only a handful that I’ve heard of. Given that Apple has my purchase history from the iTunes Store, and that none of the artists whose music I’ve purchased shows up in this list, I have to assume that they’re simply not interested in Ping. (And this includes a number of well-known artists, in some cases for music purchased for my son, whose tastes are very different from mine.)

Then there’s the list of people that Apple suggests I follow. I keep seeing the same list, over and over. I can’t click a button to remove the people I don’t want to follow (people I don’t know) from the list. And I don’t see any new ones being added over time. Obviously, these are all friends of friends, but since I don’t know them, I’d like to scratch them off the list. No can do.

Again, all of the above is purely anecdotic, and may not represent the experiences of others. But from what I’ve read on the internet, my experience is not unique. Ping is being ignored, and dust is starting to accumulate. It seems like it is becoming like that basement that you furnished but that no one wanted to use as a rec room, and which is being forgotten.