Last night at Apple’s Fall event they had the usual slew of product updates. An iPod is now apparently an iPhone without the ability to make calls, unless of course you count FaceTime as the ability to make a call? All very nice updates to their always sparkling, if a little expensive, product range. All these announcements I expect were met with the usual gasps, wows and applause you would expect (I don’t know as I don’t own a mac, iphone, ipad or ipod touch so couldn’t watch the event live) personally I greeted them with a hint of jealous meh (jealous as I can’t justify spending so much on what are no doubt good products). But then Apple did announce something of interest to me – Ping.
Were they getting into the world of golf, an iDriver or iSwing perhaps? No of course not they were pushing into the social media market. They effectively just created their version of last.fm only with a potential 160 million strong membership. With ping you create an account in iTunes where you can like songs/albums follow artists and also follow other people. Charts act as an instance recommendation engines which is further augmented by what you friends and artists are listening too. So roughly speaking all that last.fm did. The key difference here is size of the potential user base. last.fm claimed to have 40 million active users, iTunes has 160 million users which is quite a potential footprint. The shareholders at last.fm, spotify and MySpace must be a bit worried.
The ability to share my music tastes however isn’t what excites me. Hell my music tastes are so appalling I can’t even get embarrassed by it. So letting people know what I like and getting recommendations and nearest concerts etc isn’t high on my list of needs. What does excite me about this is the natural extension of the social graph. Data like this is just so excellent, and if its made available to all then its a big win in my book. And this is where I start to worry, iTunes is such a closed system, there’s no word on an API to access this data who will benefit from people using Ping, at the moment its Apple and the heavy users of iTunes. Hopefully over time this will change and APIs will open this data and if the data is based on the Open Graph Protocol then all the better.
So in the interests of adding my footprint to the social graph I signed up to Ping today. The experience was a bit disappointing, the sign up process was straightforward but after that point I was on my own. The people page to get followers suggested connecting through Facebook, which would have been great, I could then have leveraged the power of my social graph to find friends who had signed up and bands I have already liked in Facebook. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anyway of connecting to Facebook. Sure I know these bands and some key people but I had to search for these entities explicitly not something I have the time or inclination to do. Hopefully in a couple of days this will be ironed out and the full power of the social graph can be unleashed.
Until then I’ve added a link to the top of my blog to follow me on Ping, please do so and you’ll see the full spectrum of my musical tastes.