Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Apple Makes Progress With Ping. Still a Long Way to Go.

Apple has made a small but important change to Ping that improves it considerably. It’s not enough to make the much-maligned social network a real winner, but it’s a good start: An update to iTunes now allows you to interact with Ping directly from your music player, instead of having to make a visit to Ping itself.

So now you can recommend songs to your friends, and see the music they recommend, at the same you’re actually listening to songs.

It’s a such an obvious feature that it’s hard to believe that Apple (AAPL) didn’t include it in Ping’s launch. But that just shows you how rough that launch has been. (Click image to enlarge)

And even this tweak shows you how far Ping needs to go to be a genuinely useful service. For starters, it’s still tethered much too closely to Apple’s music store: If Apple doesn’t sell a song, for instance, Ping doesn’t really care what you think. So don’t bother recommending a Beatles tune.

Ping also doesn’t track what you play, even though Apple’s own “Genius” recommendation service does (as do competitors like Last.fm). That could be quite a useful feature, given proper opt-in privacy options.

But most important is that Ping lives in a gated suburb that most of your friends never visit. If Apple is really serious about social, then it has to find a way to integrate Ping with Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the networks your pals are already using. My hunch is that we’ll see that eventually.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald