Tim Cook had a conversation yesterday at the All Things Digital conference, where he discussed Macs, iPads, and a number of other subjects. One comment he made was about Ping:
We tried Ping and the customer voted and said, this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into. Some customers love it, but there’s not a huge number that do, so will we kill it? I don’t know. I’ll look at it.
I guess I should say “it’s about time.” I’ve never been a big fan of Ping, and I said so when I wrote a hands on article for Macworld about the feature when it was introduced in September, 2010. I concluded my article by saying:
Ping might be successful in the long run, but limiting what users can say to comments about music sold on the iTunes Store could be Apple’s social networking Waterloo. While there’s plenty to talk about, users won’t be able to bring up bands that aren’t sold by Apple. I’m sure Apple has a plan, but so far, users seem to be greeting Ping with a big shrug. I know I have.
Surprisingly, Apple had no plan. Since Ping was introduced, the company hasn’t changed anything of note, just letting it coast from its initial flawed implementation.
It’s rare that Apple introduces something as big as Ping and overall reactions are so negative. I don’t know anyone who has used Ping for more than the first few weeks, and most of those people were fellow journalists who were using it to write about it.
More recently, in an article Seven ways to improve the iTunes Store, I said:
7. Get rid of Ping
I don’t know anyone who thinks Ping was a good idea. And Apple’s attempts to improve it haven’t really been much of an improvement at all. Let it go, Apple, Ping ain’t working.
Frankly, I don’t want to see the iTunes Store end up like Facebook pages, with all sorts of posts, but if Apple wants to make a way for people to share what they like – and not just music, but also apps, movies and TV shows – they need to introduce a system that isn’t so closed. You already can share things on Facebook and Twitter, by clicking on the arrow icon below any item. Yet I don’t see a lot of people doing this either.
If Apple wants to drive traffic via social network sharing to the iTunes Store, they need to figure out a better way. They need to find a way to motivate customers to share these things.
No matter what, it’s time to bury Ping and move on.