Why Nobody Will Miss iTunes Ping

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After hearing that Apple will discontinue its its music social network discovery tool, Ping, via AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, nobody got upset, at all. "This service is a failure," writes Paczkowski. "Phew," says Gizmodo's Sam Biddle, after comparing it to a foul carton of yogurt. CNET's Josh Lowensohn calls it a misstep for Apple, saying it fits "nowhere" in Apple's otherwise perfect ecosystem. "The service never really caught on," explains MacRumors' Jordan Golson. Some might call that an understatement, including Wittlebee CEO and former MySpacer Sean Percival, who tweeted the following obit. "RIP Apple's Ping. I was at MySpace when it was released. Even we chuckled at it (in between our many news corp induced crying fits)." Even Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged its unpopularity, speaking at the AllThingsD D10 conference. "We tried Ping, and I think the customer voted and said "This isn’t something that I want to put a lot of energy into,'" he said. Since the service launched in September 2010, it did everything all wrong. And since then, we have gotten better versions of what iTunes attempted to create. So, there's nothing really to mourn.

It didn't do the discovery part very well. Apple billed Ping as a social-discovery tool, meaning a way for people to discover new music using friend recommendations. Apple had the right idea, but the wrong implementation. The early reviews found that its discovery system didn't work so well. "At this point, Ping is like a fairly small community with a few big stars thrown in," wrote PC World's Michael Muchmore. "The simple truth: The 'Artists We Recommend You Follow' have no relationship to the preferences you enter," added Mashable's Pete Cashmore, writing for CNN at the time. "Most artists are missing," he continued. It looked like Ping's motivations were too money-driven. "I can only imagine it's pulling data from my iTunes purchase history (i.e. 0) rather than iTunes playback history," wrote Now Public's Jordan Yerman.

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It didn't do the sharing party very well, either. So way back before Spotify implemented frictionless sharing with Facebook, Apple saw the benefits of all those social connections. And for one single hot minute, Ping was going to link up with Facebook, allowing users to share songs with Facebook friends. But, last minute, Facebook pulled out, with the two unable to reach an agreement that Apple called "onerous." Without that, the social sharing got a lot less social. iTunes had to build its own social network all on its own, which just isn't something Apple is very good at.

Spam, spam, spam. It only took 24 hours for the service to fill up with spam comment threads. Annoying.

Rather than beat the competition, it just joined it. Spotify now does what Ping wanted to do back then, connecting us with our Facebook friends's music. Even if some of us don't like the total frictionless sharing, as music discovery and sharing tool, it has all the things Ping lacked. (Artists and Facebook integration.) Plus, now that Apple is buddy-buddy with Facebook, it can just use Facebook's built in "like" system, rather than attempt to ressurect some relic of a sharing system nobody used anyway.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.