Apple Debuts Facebook's New Music Service (Which Doesn't Run on Facebook)
My sources in the music industry were correct: Apple has been working on an iTunes update that’s all about social, not streaming.
But rather than do the obvious thing–create a system that links up with existing social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace–Steve Jobs has gone ahead and created yet another social network, one designed expressly for iTunes users.
He’s calling this one “Ping,” and while it appears to look an awful lot like Facebook’s design, it will work only on the iTunes client–on laptops, iPhones and iPods. (It won’t be Web-based–my sources guessed wrong on that one.) That’s a user base of 160 million people in 23 countries, Jobs said pointedly during his presentation today.
That user base will give Apple an instant boost when it launches–but it’s still going to be an awfully big struggle to get Facebook, Twitter and MySpace users to actually use yet another social network. (Signing on will be easy, Jobs promises, but I can’t verify that yet, because Apple’s site won’t let me download the new software. And based on the Twitterstream, others are having the same problem.)
On the other hand, that’s what people said about Foursquare a year ago, when it boasted some 50,000 users. And now Dennis Crowley and crew are up to three million. So it is possible.
And who knows? Maybe Apple plans on joining the rest of the Web, via an open API that will let Facebook, Twitter et al — maybe even the to-be-launched Google (GOOG) music service — play nicely with Ping. We’ll see.