‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic?

Not content with revolutionising the MP3 and mobile markets, along with creating some of the most iconic and desirable consumer products of the 21st Century, Apple has now turned its Midas touch to the social media sphere.  But will the oddly named ‘Ping’ network prove to be another runaway success for Steve Jobs et al, or is this a step too far for Apple’s all-consuming tentacles?

On the face of it, Ping looks a solid bet.  Rather than attempting to create ‘AppleBook’ or ‘FaceApple’, the brand has wisely focused on targeting a specific market segment – the music industry.  Whilst this is a natural sector for Apple to tap in to given the impressive behemoth that is iTunes, it nevertheless makes savvy commercial sense to engage an audience that shares a collective common interest.

‘Ping’ offers standard ‘profile’ settings – we can all add a photo, some egotistical spiel about ourselves, connect with friends etc. – all very standard.  The hook, however, is provided by allowing users to ‘like’ songs, albums and artists on the iTunes network, as well as submit reviews and share playlists.  These nice touches will no doubt appeal to musical purists, as well as to musical narcissists racing to create a visibly ‘trendy’ musical library – which is music to the ears of the social / digital bods at Apple.

One of the things community managers fear most is a silent arena.  There’s nothing worse than driving consumers to your network or forum, only for them to be met with a digital silence.  But here’s where, in my opinion, I think Apple have been extraordinarily clever.  ‘Ping’ will generate a raft of user-generated content from passionate advocates – an intriguing feature that many more generic social networks fail to achieve.

So is this yet another step on the path to world domination for Apple?  On the face of it, one would think that the brand has struck digital gold once again.  But the Social Media sea is an oft-tempestuous place.  One needs only to mention the two words ‘Google Wave’ to prove that the biggest brands in the world can get things spectacularly wrong – a big brand name does not automatically equate to social success.

As both a digital marketer and a music aficionado, the concept of ‘Ping’ interests me on multiple levels.  There’s no doubt that the social media sphere has long presented opportunities for a successful music-based network, and, commercially, Apple has the infrastructure to accommodate this.  Conversely, I’m left wondering whether Apple is in fact using ‘social’ to serve its own commercial interests rather than providing consumers with a genuinely engaging, dynamic and broad social platform.

There are a lot of questions that only time will answer, but one thing’s for certain – branding ‘Ping’ with the Apple logo does not necessarily mean that the venture will be a success.  Watch this space…

(You can find me, and my musical tastes, on Ping by searching for Callum Saunders.)


68 responses to “‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic?

  1. Ping is a golf club manufacturer and a very well established brand name in that industry. Dumb idea, Apple.

    • Apparently, Ping gave its permission for them to use it. I agree however – would have thought it better to create a fresh new brand identity for it rather than confuse consumers – especially from a search perspective!

    • LoL…I just typed in ping.com and I got the golf site…FAIL!!! 😉

      • I just tried ping.com too! Not exactly smart on Apple’s part to ask to use their name but smart on the golf club manufacturer to allow Apple to use theirs! With Apple’s “Ping” being in the social media spot light, the golf club manufacturer’s web rankings probably reached an all time high! lol

      • I don’t understand the link between “Ping” and the Apple brand. After you start naming all of your brands with an i as the first part of the name (iPod, iTunes, iPad…) why not create the consumer link and keep with a consistent naming pattern for its music social network? iTunes Net, or iNet? I’m not sure what consumer surveys on naming were done, but I think Apple could have done better. Ping = golf and sounds like Bing which can be confused with the search engine.

      • Agree with Anita…I thought it was the search engine “Bing” as well. Even iPing could have been better than Ping…but why Ping?? Why not iMusic, or iMuse…I’m copyrighting those ideas if anyone likes them!! You know where to find me! 😉

      • You will not find Apple’s Ping via your browser or search engine…since it is a part of iTunes.

    • Ping is also PING Princeton INternet Group — Do you think it is a Dumb idea by apple because the name already existed or because of just he idea???

  2. I tried it out yesterday, and since I never bought any iTunes music I can’t seem to do much. I think you can only make playlists, review and talk about music you bought from iTunes, which renders your whole rest of the library pretty useless.

    • Yep. As stated, I think they could have come about it a lot better – it does tie into the commercial aspect nicely, but consumers will ultimately demand more from a network – after all, Apple are asking people to invest time and energy into Ping – we should get more out of it!

    • I noticed that too 😦 Most of my music comes from Albums I already owned and didn’t buy via iTunes… I realized Ping wouldn’t be of any use to me haha

  3. Do we really need another social network? Even if it is music-centric?

    • I see your point – there are so many networks now that consumers will all ask the same question – ‘why do we need another one’? I think that there is scope for a great music network for music buffs, but think Apple may need to develop Ping and introduce a lot more features to justify prolonged engagement with it.

      • Jamie Mechanical

        Nice post.
        I’m not sure where Ping really sits in the social networking world, although I do like the premise of it. I guess time will tell how useful it is.

    • Good point – people have said the same thing about the iPod, iPhone,iPad – there were other platforms available that filled the same need (mostly) and Apple proved them wrong. “Midas touch” indeed!

    • I agree…trying to keep up with facebook, twitter, myspace, youtube, etc…OVERLOAD!!! Especially since Ping is being very narrow with it being for only iTunes users…FAIL!!! Everyone can share music now, through other social networks like the ones mentioned above. :/

  4. I don’t know if I’ll be jumping on this one. I’ve somehow managed to avoid being sucked in by Apple.

    • I’ve been having a play with it today and agree with you in terms of ‘being sucked in by Apple’. Like an iPhone app, ‘Ping’ locks you into iTunes explicitly – if you don’t already use the platform, it seems that consumers won’t necessarily flock to it…

  5. Thanks for the heads up.
    Now that they have teamed up with LiveNation, it cemented my decision to NOT use it. Independent and unsigned artists, non-LiveNation venues and ticket agencies have already decided that Itunes, LiveNation, and Ticketmaster already have monopolized the music delivery systems. They are essentially “digital plantation owners” (Dean, Serendipity).
    I hate that I have to use ITunes to synch up my Nano (a gift). I miss my basic MP3 player that was compatible with several formats.
    Anyway, I’ll stick to reverbnation, music forums, the blogs, Twitter, and FB. The last thing I’m going to do is abandon my principles of local sustainability to get in bed with Applivemaster. Enough is enough already!!

  6. Given Apple’s wonderful track record with privacy policies, EULA limitations and copyright enforcement, this article has shown me one thing in particular: Apple in interested in getting their tendrils everywhere, and I don’t want a single part of it. Another social network is not what is needed, but all Apple really wants is another way to shill their iTunes store and collect data on all the music listeners of the world.

    Don’t touch it.

    • i couldnt agree with you more (and Blogger as well) this sadly sounds like another attempt by Apple to sell product and keep the itune family growing..it’s not healthy for independent or unsigned artists at all.. one to avoid

  7. interesting. prob just another platform to accelerate the usage of p2p’s.


  8. I doubt Ping will stand very long against the test of time. We have a Facebook and Twitter, as well as music-centralized social networks like Last.fm and Blip.fm; what more do we need? Though I do hope that Ping will last, but it seems unlikely.

  9. I’m all about apple/macintosh…. but in setting up this Ping deal I noticed that the first/last name is tied to billing which I do not like as I don’t want to change my name on my billing. It’s scary knowing your personal information {first and last name} is publically displayed {you don’t have a choice}. If the privacy settings would change I would use it immediately.

  10. JEEZ! Apple is legit going to rule the world in the near future.

    I think Ping will end up being just like twitter…nobody really gets it for a long time, untill the celbrities get in on it, and then if they put their celebrified stamp of approval on it we will all get in on the action too.

    Ping has really good intentions. I think it could be a really good thing for bands to get their music out to people who really LOVE music! Personally, I LOVE music, and all of the bands that power my playlists are yet to really hit it big. I think Ping would do wonders for those “about to go big” bands that just need that extra exposure 🙂

    Hopefully it works, if not, I don’t think anything is lost because music sharing happens on every single one of the current social networks as well.

  11. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate) « All Things Tarun

  12. The only way to compete with Facebook is to control the platforms used to access it. Apple is now a major contender in the social world…but so are others…

  13. The Idea is interesting. The main challenge, for me, is the use of a different platform (iTunes) instead of a pure navigator, like in other social platforms. A sort of Facebook friendly link may help.
    Not sure it will be a success.

  14. I don’t download or use iTunes, so this is going to be pretty useless for people such as myself. On the other hand, why hasn’t Pandora tried expanding into something like Ping? You can already create your own “channels” to send to people or to share with others, and I think this is much nicer because, as we all know, Pandora channels evolve with you as you begin to rate each song that is played. On Ping the playlist will always remain the same and will not adapt. I dunno, I’m still a fan of Pandora and I think if they tried competing with Ping they could totally win.

  15. I think is a cool idea, is like a twitter for people to connect with their favorite artists and friends. Last.Fm is not that good as a social music website, for example, their software is not social, it does not show any “playing now” from your contacts, so you have to stick with the last.fm radio do learn some new songs instead of your friends.

  16. i think it is a cool idea, but even if it were sub standard most people would ignore that and think it was awesome because apple is awesome.

    But i did have problems signing into it, it wouldn’t let me move on to the next step to create my account after I entered info, might try again another day.

  17. It amuses me how we all seem to miss the face that tribes are everything. Google did not attempt to create a following of people, it existed to organise our information. Google is not inherently social. Facebook and Apple are because they help organise people, not information. If you’re interested in this social-swing have a re-read of gurus Seth Godin Jeff Jarvis and maybe even little old me. All the best. Keep blogging. Stop going to Ping.com

  18. It amuses me how we all seem to miss the fact that tribes are everything. Google did not attempt to create a following of people, it existed to organise our information. Google is not inherently social. Facebook and Apple are because they help organise people, not information. If you’re interested in this social-swing have a re-read of gurus Seth Godin Jeff Jarvis and maybe even little old me. All the best. Keep blogging. Stop going to Ping.com

  19. Great article, Callum.

    What do you think of my perspective on Ping? I think the genius in it is building a social network that builds off of iTunes. I think that it could be the first social network that makes some sense from a money-making experieience.


    (I swear I’m not trying to build a backlink — I just didn’t know how else to send you the link!)

    Kind regards,


    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the link! I agree with you regarding the first social network to make sense from a commercial perspective. From a digital marketing perspective, it’s very well thought-out indeed. However, social is exactly that – social. PEOPLE are the ones who hold power. I think that it’s a fantastic idea and ties in so nicely with iTunes / buying songs, but I honestly believe Apple WILL need to evolve and offer people much more than they currently are. But like I said, it’s early days – as long as they listen to what people are saying and don’t do a Google Wave, it could be massive.

  20. problematic.. i think!!!


  21. @ Anita
    “I don’t understand the link between “Ping” and the Apple brand. ”

    ping is apple lingo. used like this:
    apple #1:”i’m gonna go to lunch but i’ll talk to you when i get back.”
    apple #2: “okay yea, ping me”

    sounds funny but it’s used instead of call me, email me, IM me, etc. so it’s not really new to apple, it’s part of their everyday language.

    • WHAT THE….???? Now apple has a LANGUAGE!?? Is it some kind of secret code?? Because, I have NEVER heard “ping me.” I would think that’s just a typo for “pinch me” or something. Who comes up with this stuff!!??

  22. Interesting!

    There’s also this new SNS called Virb.com. It’s like a meta-MySpace. But we pay for it. Too bad. 😦

  23. neither…pointless. another network to keep track of. if it gets really really popular… i’ll get on. otherwise, i’m good where I’m at.

  24. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate) « Rock 'n Roll Rehab

  25. Remember when everyone had MySpace and you could put a song on your profile page and it would play whenever you visited someone and sound horrible because you were listening to your own music?
    It was so hard to pick a song that depicted your identity, your tastes and you couldn’t leave it up too long or you would look kind of lame because it wouldn’t be cool anymore! Aaah the stress of it. I would not welcome that back 😀

  26. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? « Realidad Alternativa

  27. This seems to be very similar to what you can already do with Spotify in Europe (and soon the US, I believe) – create playlists, favourite songs, share tracks with friends, etc. Of course the main difference is that you don’t have to buy any of the music on Spotify meaning that it’s easier to say to a friend “hey check out this song that you haven’t heard” instead of “hey check out this song that you have to buy in order to listen to and so have probably already heard it anyway”. That and Spotify links itself into Facebook for a lot of it’s social needs.

  28. I think this was one of the very few things Apple could possibly do after having achieved success in the portable players and gadgets sector. I guess they’ll start a new search engine after a few months 🙂 The irony is “Ping” does rhyme with “Bing”….

  29. I’m so in love with Spotify that even apple can’t lure me away. It’s has just the right amount of sharing for me (via facebook).

    • I’m with you on Spotify. I understand that iTunes is monetised, which is why people can only listen to 30 seconds of a song. But imagine if they created a free listening service like Spotify, which utilised Ping and sharing, but allowed users to purchase songs through the already proven iTunes infrastructure. They’re missing a very big trick…

  30. Pingback: Det sociala äpplet |

  31. Just reading through a few of the posts here on the site and on sites all over the web and I’ve just to ask, What was everyone expecting after 48 hours? I see all of these of these titles such as “FAIL”, “Apple’s Ping seems half-baked at launch”, blah and blah. I don’t know but as a person that enjoys finding new music, any additional ways of exploring is a plus. Like anything Apple makes, you don’t have to use it. Of course everyone has the right to comment good or bad on Ping, but I think I’ll take the long term approach on if this fits the bill. LastFM was crap when it first came out of the gate and as wonderful as Spotify sounds, here in Canada I can’t use it so poo on that.


    • A valid point. At only 48 hours old, Ping is hardly in its final stages of development. However the thing I think that many bloggers are trying to portray is that Apple WILL need to adapt if its Ping project is to survive.

      It seems remarkable that such a huge brand *seemingly* hasn’t taken the time to add a wealth of features. Sure, it’s commercially robust and makes great use of the iTunes infrastructure, but as it currently stands (which is what many bloggers are saying), this isn’t enough.

      As it stands, Ping is not set up to succeed in the long run. It has incredible potential, but it’s up to Apple to not be as stubborn as Google was with Wave and listen, evolve and give something back rather than doing all the taking.

  32. Pingback: Apple unveils new iPods, Social Network « Life Detective Club

  33. Ugh. Who needs yet another social network? I’m gonna create a social network that networks social networks. I’ll be rich!

  34. I think there is a fundamental naming problem with the platform. And whilst the Apple fanboys will likely flock to the site, I think that if they make it anything like iTunes, it will be a very annoying patform for the ‘general public’ – a bit raw, and would be useless except for the fact that you need it to sync with your iProduct. This is an Apple development I will be watching with interest.

    • Yep. There have been a few people on here commenting on Spotify’s current success and I think that Apple will need to make a very bold move if they really want to succeed. Why not turn iTunes into a free streaming service like Spotify? Surely people who want to BUY music will continue to do so, whilst the increased ability to LISTEN to music on iTunes properly will surely encourage more people to buy tracks – especially if it’s so easy, since it’s already integrated with iTunes and our iPods / iPhones…

  35. Pingback: Friday LinkFrogging – 9/3/10 «

  36. I think this would just produce problematic outcomes since there are already other companies who have used this term.

  37. I honestly think Ping may be problematic. Its just another attempt by an industry to “join the crowd”. As did Facebook add the “Places” mobile feature to match FourSquare’s overall function. Leave the social networks to Facebook, Apple.


  38. Unfortunately , it won’t be working in Kuwait 😦

    Unlucky for us…….

  39. Sounds too much like Bing. I cringe at the prospect of joining yet another social network. Soon, my online endeavors will prevent me from brushing my teeth and taking a shower. Question: will we all become online promoters? It seems like all my friends are going in that direction, and I wouldn’t mind doing it myself.

  40. I think its pretty neat, Ping of course isn’t going to be something at the level of facebook or myspace, its not intended to be. Its purpose is to be another outlet to explore music through socializing with other music-aficionados. I see this in the near future being connecting to things like twitter, facebook, etc. where you can share music with your friends easier and get even closer to the bands that you follow (more closer than being their friend on facebook).

  41. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate) « Threadlog.com

  42. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate) « @tiagoamelo – Mídias Sociais

  43. Pingback: ‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate) | Selected Posts

  44. I love your blog lots of useful information.
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