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Facebook could have a Ping killer in the works


Facebook, after consolidating its position in three major Internet sectors — retailing, news and games — is now getting serious about music and media, according to a “GigaOm” article ( And they could offer a “Ping” killer.

At The Cable Show held recently in Chicago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts extolled the values of cloud-based services and explained why cloud-based guides and interfaces are going to be key to television’s future. He showed off a deep integration with Facebook that can make television more social with recommendations from your social graph, says “GigaOm.” The article also expects FaceBook to offer more features for listening to music, sharing music and discussing music.

That sounds like Apple’s Ping, doesn’t it? In case you’re not familiar with Ping, it was introduced with iTunes 10. It’s a music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and friends to discover what music they’re talking about, listening to and downloading.

iTunes Ping lets you post your thoughts and opinions, your favorite albums and songs, the music you’ve downloaded from iTunes, plus view concert listings and tell your friends which concerts you plan to attend. You can follow your favorite artists to see what they’re up to, check out photos and videos they’ve posted, see their tour dates and read comments about other artists and albums they’re listening to. You can also create a profile on iTunes to let your friends know who you’re following, what you’re listening to and which concerts you’re going to.

Sounds nifty, doesn’t it? But Ping is generally considered to be one of Apple’s few failures in recent years. Critical response has been savage.

Josh Long, the producer and host of MacTech Live, wrote a column (, listing the things wrong with Ping, which included:

° There’s no way to “like” or “post” podcasts on your profile.

° There’s no way to like or post iPhone/iPad/iPod touch apps on your profile.

° There are relatively few artists to follow

° There’s no way to import friends. Any good social network will allow you to either upload your contacts database or find friends by connecting to another of your social network profiles. Not Ping.

° Ping only cares about what you purchase, not what you listen to. Fans of other music social networks like are quick to point out that Ping doesn’t let you share what you’re listening to, which decreases Ping’s usefulness for music discovery

° There are privacy issues. For example, your real name, first and last, is now associated with all previous reviews you’ve ever written on iTunes.

° There are no notifications when people follow you. You have to manually check into Ping to see whether someone has started following you.

° Ping and iTunes 10 don’t work with Mac OS X Tiger.

° You can only use Ping in iTunes. And this experience is kind of klunky at best.

° It’s not very polished.

As others have elaborated, Ping doesn’t communicate with any other social networks. You can’t see people’s iTunes Pings in Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else.

What it boils down to is that Ping is a commercial tool, not a social interaction tool. It’s all about driving sales on the iTunes Store.

Apple can certainly fix the problems with Ping. But if Facebook does have some serious ambitions regarding music and the social aspect of music listening/sharing, Ping could be in biiiigggg trouble.

— Dennis Sellers

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