So I finally got around to downloading iTunes 10 and playing around with Ping.

I agree with Swizec who makes all the points I would make in much more colorful language.

In summary, Ping is not very social and it is not really about music. It is about music purchases and celebrities.

If you want to see a social network about music, check out It knows what I am listening to right now no matter where I am listening (not in iTunes hopefully). It knows what music I like and it doesn't ask me to tell them what that is. It knows who likes the same kind of music I do.

Ping shows what a command and control culture thinks a social network is. I am sure millions of people will use Ping. And I am equally sure that it will not advance the state of the music business one bit.

I read Om Malik's early take on Ping. I was shocked that I would have to download software to create a social network and said so in the comments. Of course that is what Apple would do in its iTunes centric view of the world. But tying Ping to iTunes is wrong. And tying Ping to music purchases is wrong. And tying Ping to top artists is wrong.

I didn't find any of my music friends on Ping. Just a bunch of tech pundits and VCs who had to check this thing out. So I'm headed back to the places I hang out with my music friends online; Tumblr,, hype machine, Soundcloud,, etc.

I hope you'll join me. And while I am on the subject of music, you might enjoy listening to my internet radio channel this weekend. It is called and it was built on tumblr, streampad, and soundcloud. Not one bit of Apple technology in it.

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#My Music#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Drew Meyers

    Just tuned into right now!! I like the first song so far.I haven’t downloaded iTunes 10 yet – I’m traveling and have slow bandwidth in my hostel at the moment, so was going to wait until I didn’t have to worry about that.

    1. fredwilson

      that is exactly my point. why force someone to download software toparticipate in a social net?

      1. pxlated

        Hmmm – What’s the big deal, if you’re into iTunes you’re downloading updates on a fairly regular basis. Another normal update and you have Ping.

        1. fredwilson

          i skip most of the downloadsthey are annoyingi really dislike desktop software now that we have web software

  2. RichardF

    I love it was a shame they had to sell out to CBS. Is it possible to search Fred? I had a quick look but it wasn’t obvious

    1. fredwilson

      nope. but it is a great idea.i will work on it

  3. Aviah Laor

    At least they named it right. What kind of a social experience do you expect from something that is called PING? a ping.”Ping is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network and to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer. The name comes from active sonar terminology” (wikipedia)

  4. LIAD

    it feels all a little too contrived to me, like a forced marriage. – and the lord steve came down from on high and said, you shalt use my social network and make it holy, lest you be smitten from the nation of Apple for eternity – social networks cant be enforced upon people from the top down, they are built organically from the ground up.that ping is so overtly driven by commercialism compounds its problems

  5. bankruptrocks

    A social network available only within iTunes, and further restricted to 23 countries. What a stupid idea.

  6. Harry DeMott

    Clayton Christensen, in his wonderful books “The Innovators Dilema” and “the Innovators Solution” has a concept of a product being good enough.It’s not the best -and it is certainly not for the early adopters and the technologists out there – but for the masses, it is good enough.iTunes fits in this category. For most people it is a good enough to live their musical life through.I DON’T think Ping is good enough as a social network – and once you go down that channel – there are far better services that are just as easily learned and adopted.A lot of people have beaten on iTV as not being all that they hoped for – here I do think it will be “good enough” for many people out there who just want limited functionality and want to watch mainstream stuff.(BTW there is a comment from RichardF which says: “I love it is a shame they had to sell out to CBS” It was barely off the ground and they paid something like $300M for it – I think everyone involved with that transaction has to be ecstatic)

    1. fredwilson

      everyone but the users and CBS execs who have to make the deal worki agree that iTV will be good enough for many usersbut not all usersthe google tv vision, which is also the boxee vision, is what many TV userswill want…

      1. awaldstein

        Fred…I don’t think that either Google nor Apple really understand social or community.I am a believer that Apple is the force to drive the behavioral change for the mass market with TV but that it won’t really let the community on the web move to the big screen. Not the desired end game but a force to get it started. I do put Boxee in a somewhat different camp then Google…both are democratic in their approach but I think Boxee understands community and social and its ties to video viewing. That’s a big difference to me.

    2. RichardF

      I’m sure you are right Harry, everyone who had a financial interest in would have been ecstatic. The users (who built the community) outside of UK, Germany and USA were gutted.

  7. shotbeak

    Haven’t seen your internet radio channel until now. Must say, I quite like it.Might build my own one on those platforms. Kudos. Might also throw in some recommendations for each song too.P.S. If you are interested, check out for sharing your music taste through twitter.

  8. ErikSchwartz

    As I said yesterday in a discussion on Facebook.They (Apple) just don’t get it. There is a fundamental openness and chaos in a community, they feel they must suppress that lack of control. They don’t like chaos. A community is created by its audience. Apple wants to control ALL aspects of their products. When your product is a community that won’t work. When your product is a community your product is mostly created by its users.

    1. fredwilson


    2. David Noël

      Well said, Erik.

    3. William Mougayar

      160 million users is not a community?

      1. ErikSchwartz

        No.160 million users is an audience. If they only consume what is given them by Apple and their corporate partners and users do not talk to one another they are not a community.

        1. William Mougayar

          OK, but my point is that Apple can turn part of them into a community. At least, some % would want to be in that community.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            My point is that “community” is counter to Apple’s DNA. In a community the user experience is dictated by the community members not the community administrator.Apple’s raison d’être is a user experience controlled and curated by the expert designers who work for Apple.

          2. William Mougayar

            Erik, why be bogged down by community theory when it’s different in practice. Am happy with what Apple does, as they don’t force me to go there. And I can still go to, Slacker or Pandora. If Apple has figured out the monetization part better than others, why ding them? When Apple’s Apps search engine comes out, are you going to say- well it only covers 200,000 Apple apps. So what?

    4. Peter Mullen

      To say that ‘Apple doesn’t get it’ is not really accurate. Apple ‘gets it’ just fine, but in their own controlling, manipulative way. It is Apple fanboys that don’t really get it. They just continue to fawn over anything, any idea, any quote, any product that Apple chooses to put out there. This is not to say that Apple does not create insanely great products nor that it doesn’t lead the world in innovation. I am staggered that an extreme POS like iTunes has lasted as long as it has, but give credit where credit is due. Jobs has his hooks so deep into his audience that they cannot see nor even care what has happened before their very eyes. Closed proprietary manipulative genius. What else can you call it?

      1. Douglas Crets

        I think the reason people fell in love with iTunes is not because ofanything magical about iTunes. It was simply the first really solidcommercial platform for online music. People go where it’s easiest to go,and they went there before they started thinking about how fragmented theweb should remain for things like content that follows communities, andcommunities that follow content.

        1. Peter Mullen

          All true. Apple was the first to vertically integrate the value chain in selling music over the web, all sheer visionary brilliance by Steve Jobs. A big part of the beauty of iTunes at the time was its simplicity coupled to an elegant user experience, carrying your music library in a cool package. ITunes has, over time, morphed into a truly rotten experience, maintaining what is now a clunky interface, coupled to restrictive policies, despite how we now would like to manage our mobile music experience, all for the self-serving satisfaction of one, now very powerful and controlling individual. Apple continues to churn out really cool end user products, but clings to a closed, proprietary system for content, which I personally can’t stand, and keeps me from joining the fanboy club.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        You are absolutely right.One needs to step back and ask what at the core is Apple (no pun intended)Apple makes money by selling hardware at very high margins with very short replacement cycles.iTunes music store runs at break even at best (gross margins are like 12%, net that’s going to be near 0). Apple does not make money selling music. So why does iTunes exist? iTunes exists in order for users to spend enough money there so that the next time they buy hardware it HAS to be Apple hardware or they are walking away from their investment in their library.Ping is no different.

        1. ¡ɜɿoɾɪɹℲ

          If “Apple makes money by selling hardware at very high margins with very short replacement cycles,” then why did my two-year-old iPhone just got a software update that added new features?And as far as “iTunes exists in order for users to spend enough money there so that the next time they buy hardware it HAS to be Apple hardware.” None of my iTunes purchases are restricted to Apple hardware. Its been a few years now since that’s been the norm, too.You might want to take a deep breath and realize you’re not playing with a full set of cards, bucko.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            From the horse’s mouth”The iPod makes money. The iTunes Music Store doesn’t,”-Apple Senior Vice President Phil SchillerAs for the personal insults? Grow up.

          2. David Semeria

            Personal insults = no likes for weird inverted typeface dude.

          3. Aaron Klein

            Hey, give Steve Jobs a break. He was trying to type his name on an iPhone touch screen.

        2. JLM

          Razor blades and razors in reverse. Apple is willing to be in the eyeTunes business because it can continue to sell you iPods.

          1. David Semeria

            Well said JLM

        3. Rahul Deodhar

          I like to believe that Apple is putting in place a platform with iTunes.What ever frequency of product replacement you take – there is an upper limit. Apple has not reached that limit yet. Once that limit is reached, you need a service that makes money. A platform is better way to make money.iphone is not a phone but a computer that can do more than the first mac ever could. But it is a platform. It allows people to work on top of it. Microsoft windows is a platform. So is office – we don’t hear about it often but the sheer number of templates people design on Office that power MIS, financial reports – each of these is making MS Office into a platform.iTunes is not yet a platform. But with Ping apple is moving it towards one. Gradually they will put together what gbattle said above.Apple is fascinated by control. As of now, iTunes does not have “control architecture”. IOS has a well developed control architecture. So expect a rejig of iTunes along a controlled core. Then expect to see all the add-ons like apps.

      3. ZiWeb

        I agree with Eric. Building a community is different than building a product. But, I think Apple will make changes in the future.

      4. JLM

        I think you have stumbled upon the core truth about Apple — even when they “get it” they still want to manipulate it to behave in the manner they desire. Who can blame them? They have been able to create instant icons.Who are you going to believe? Your lying eyes or Emperor Jobs?They will eventually come around when the Emperor decides to come around.Apple is a cult and it is not necessarily an unhealthy cult as long as Apple continues to turn out instantly iconic products.

        1. Douglas Crets

          My only argument with this perceived and alleged resentment of Apple is thatI believe every company executive would want to do this, if they were beinghonest? Who invents a process, a product, or a terminology, even, and doesnot want credit, profit and loyalty in the customer base? I also don’t thinkApple is exclusive to this practice. And they certainly didn’t invent it.

    5. Satish Mummareddy

      I hear all the Apple bashing (that apple doesnt get social etc) and I’m thinking wasn’t the first real technology community/social network the apple fans. Didn’t the apple community make apple successful?

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Why is it when anyone says anything vaguely critical of apple they’re “Apple bashing”?They’re a company.They make devices with computers in them.No one is insulting your mother.

        1. Satish Mummareddy

          I guess you didn’t bother to read the content of my comment. I specificallycommented about people saying APPLE DOESN’T GET SOCIAL and I gave anexample. But you want to choose to say random crap and then try to make itpersonal. Good for you Eric.And I am not an apple fan. I don’t have any apple product other than anearly generation ipod. 🙂

        2. ShanaC

          Why are we so nervous to discuss apple in a very serious context- it is almost like they are developing cultic practices and this makes people very uneasy to discuss the Apple

      2. ninakix

        Hah, I just said this.But seriously, having a community of excited fans doesn’t mean that has anything to do with Apple’s ability to understand and deal with social products. Most of that community operated outside the bounds of the tools Apple provided – they used their Apple computers as a tool to access message boards, blogs, etc. built on top of products from other companies. Not squashing the community was about the one thing Apple did right. It would be ridiculous to say, for example, that Chanel gets social because they have an avid community of fans, so I don’t see how that argument holds in regards to Apple.

  9. William Mougayar

    It’s definitely the Apple way of doing things and it is iTunes centric with a heavy purchasing slant, but isn’t it too early to shoot it down? I’m with Om on this one, but I also love

    1. fredwilson

      it isn’t too early for me to shut it down as a userbut you are right that maybe apple will be successful with it

  10. charlessmith

    I (as a founder of have a dog in this fight, so with that disclosure out of the way, here’s my view: online social networks work when they start with communities that already exist. They enable those communities by providing communication tools, network extenders and rules around those interactions. I don’t see a community of music buyers out there looking to connect and that’s the community Apple’s chosen to enable. The behavior is not “hey, I need to find new music, I think I’ll open iTunes to do it.” It’s “hey, I head this song, on the radio, my friend told me about it, Pitchfork loves it, saraspy blogged it, then I downloaded it.” There are a lot of other things I don’t like about Ping (and some I do), but I think that it’s a flawed concept because it’s enabling a community that doesn’t exist.

    1. Chris Clark

      Thanks for the comment! Just installed and so far, so good. Very handy for anyone who regularly visits music blogs. I’m sure there’s a lot more functionality in here that I’ve yet to discover, but the core stuff is great thus far!

      1. charlessmith

        Chris-Thanks so much for installing- would love to hear any other thoughts that you might have about our product. Best,Charles

  11. Arek Skuza

    I don’t think Apple understands social world……

    1. DonRyan

      Agreed. Much like Google, what they do they do extremely well but when it comes to social they fall flat.

  12. Pete

    It’s interesting to watch established companies like AAPL and GOOG try to move into unrelated product spaces. With a starting point defined by existing products, business models, customers, brand, and culture, you end up with weird offerings like Ping, Buzz, both bolted onto some other set of objectives.

    1. fredwilson

      and ping’s cousing bing

      1. David Semeria

        A rare slice of humour (sic) from Mr. Wilson… You should do more of that.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t have howard lindzon’s mind 🙂

          1. ShanaC

            We should have howard have a guest post day about comedy and tech 🙂 that would be entertaining….

    2. mdudas

      And you also end up with some awesome products like the iPhone, Android, Amazon S3, Gmail and Google Maps. I certainly hope Google, Apple, Amazon, etc continue to try to innovate and disrupt outside of their original core businesses.

      1. Pete

        The iPhone is arguably an extension of AAPL’s computing business, but the innovation there is unquestionable, particularly the AppStore. Google Maps and Android began life as acquired start-ups. Gmail is the best out there, and I love the new Priority Inbox. Certainly S3 is unrelated.Large companies can certainly innovate outside their core business, but most innovation comes from start-ups that aren’t chained to an aircraft carrier headed in another direction.

  13. BmoreWire

    It kills me that they bought and shut down I loved that site.

    1. fredwilson

      way better than ping for sure

  14. PSP Games download

    Perhaps apple just underestimated facebook thinking that they can just garner large user base given the fact that apple has it’s momentum in the tech world. Now Ping is just a steaming pile of crap with lots of spammers making it look really bad. Facebook had solidified it’s place in the social networking world, It didn’t have a 500m users because they just wanted to sign up. They have 500m users who wants a real social networking experience. That’s the difference of the two.

  15. John Minnihan

    Apple is going for the mass-market ‘follow-recommend-purchase’ model. I doubt they’ve considered, more than just in passing if at all, the desires of folks who use & similar services. We don’t follow trends or pop artists, nor do we care what 13 yo girls like this week.When Ping was announced, it was no accident that one of it’s listed features was Apple’s possession of SEVENTY GAZILLION credit card numbers. Ping will use the current hotness of ‘social’ to deliver an environment (not an experience) in which they can apply the genius-style recommendations to drive purchases.Realizing that many fans will want to know about – and own – the music their favorite artist(s) is currently enjoying, Apple has created a vehicle to facilitate that. Never mind that this means the artists can essentially turn their profiles into real-time commercials; they’ll sell a ton of music this way.That, I say, is genius.

    1. fredwilson

      if people keep buying music filesi think streaming (ie listening) is the future (via subscriptions)

      1. John Minnihan

        Agreed wrt streaming.Edit. In fact, Steve used the word rent in reference to this model, right? I’d have to doublecheck the keynote to be sure. – jbminnNotice how Steve stressed ‘consumers don’t want to store or sync music they buy’? (paraphrasing). He’s getting the mass market ready for streaming & AppleTV / iTunes / Ping is the (initial?) delivery mechanism.Login to your [Apple] account from your [Apple] device and [listen to | watch] the media [Apple has] stored for you. You & I and other tech-savvy folks may not like the way this limits our choices, but the mass market here is akin to the average new car owner: they don’t even change their own oil, let alone understand how to replace the spark plugs (or whatever). They’ll respond favorably (i.e. spend money) to a company that makes these choices for them & that does the ‘dirty work’.And that segment of the market is huge & of course Apple already has a large number of their credit cards. I’d love to see the 15 -20 year plan that this is part of.

        1. fredwilson

          rightwhich is why i don’t understand why ping doesn’t care about what you arelistening to, just what youv’e bought

          1. John Minnihan

            Maybe it will pay attention later or is paying attention *now* and that will be part of the next aspect of the product plan. But if the streaming is done within Ping / iTunes, Apple will already know what you’re listening to, right?IMO, they have to first care about what you’ve previously bought because that’s the metric of most business interest: you spent [x] on [y] (and thus may be incentivized to spend [a] on [b, c d]).

          2. Austin Bryan

            Someone check my understanding, but it seems that their focus on ownership ties back to royalties.Apple probably doesn’t want to pay the royalties associated with a traditional streaming service (e.g. Pandora). As John said above, instead of giving you access to all music, they give you access to your music, from anywhere and on any (Apple) device. Your music being music that you’ve purchased through iTunes and has been synced to the cloud via Lala 2.0.As a conduit through which people play only songs that they already own, Apple gets to stay out of the royalty business — and spend more money on massive server farms.

      2. Dan Sweet

        i’ve already pretty much stopped buying media. my “i’ll buy a favorite on Blu-Ray if I see it on sale at $X” has dropped and dropped and is probably down to about $5 at this point. I don’t rewatch that much and can always put it in the Netflix Blu-Ray Queue if I need it. 2-3 finely tuned Pandora stations and XM in the car gets it done for music/news.

  16. Aaron

    Fred, this post is why I love reading you… couldn’t agree more.

  17. None

    I think you make a valid point, but I also think you are perhaps thinking everyone who happens upon your posts here already knows who you are and what you make your living on. When making harsh critiques against rival products, and then promoting your own, it would be nice if you’d disclose your potential conflicts of interest.

    1. fredwilson

      i do disclose potential conflicts on this blog all the timeand i don’t think i have an investment in a “rival product” to Pingwhich investment were you thinking of?

  18. Rizwan Ahmad

    100% agreed!

  19. mdudas

    It seems a bit early to render a final verdict on Ping considering it launched less than a week ago and is likely to include Facebook Connect soon (it sounds like it was expected to launch with that functionality but there were some last minute hiccups behind closed doors). I hold out some hope that it will be useful when I can easily track my actual friends’ likes and purchases.Your post did spur me to check out, which I hadn’t used since 2007. My quick take is that it really isn’t a great social music site. It is painful to find & add friends, and I’m actually amazed that not a single person has sent me an invite to follow them on in the 3 years since I last used the service. And I’ve worked in the online music business for the past 3 years!The best social implementation I’ve seen to date in music is Spotify. Spotify adds all my friends automatically through Facebook Connect rather than make me search for them. If I don’t want to follow a certain friend, I can block them. For those I follow, I can see whatever they’ve chosen to share publicly (albums, songs, favorites, playlists, etc.) It has helped me discover as many new artists as Pandora has while also offering me the ability to listen on demand.I pray, pray, pray the labels wake up soon and license Spotify in the US. Every person I know who has seen it or used it is absolutely blown away and has increased their music consumption and discovery significantly. It will be the killer music app once I can share, discover & consume on demand music with all my friends.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think that will happen so fastfor some reason the US labels have blackballed Spotify

      1. Wesley Verhoeve

        The official reason major labels are black balling Spotify is because of the insanely small pay-outs. I run an indie label and ran a few calculations on how much all of the digital retailers pay my artists per unit sold (downloaded or streamed), and was shocked to find Spotify in the very bottom spot. Interestingly enough though, and this is an obvious positive, Spotify did rank in fifth place for full dollar amounts paid out (so they pay very little per unit, but they were streaming so many units that they did move the needle).I pasted the numbers below, originally from my post on this topic which has more on this: ( Retailers Ranked By Revenue Per Song Sold*iTunes $0.566Amazon Digital $0.521eMusic $0.282Amie Street $0.185Beezik $0.057Napster $0.020LaLa media $0.012Real/ Rhapsody $0.0096WE7 $0.0065MediaNet $0.004Spotify $0.0026

        1. fredwilson

          so streaming doesn’t pay as much as downloading?but what if streaming is the future in terms of what users want to do?

          1. Wesley Verhoeve

            I think it is indeed the future in terms of what users want, so we’ll have to deal with it. As a consumer it is what I want too, in all media. Recently, I had an e-mail conversation with Reed Hastings of Netflix about a stream-only subscription option because receiving DVDs in the mail has started to feel inconvenient and antiquated to me. Different form of media, same evolution of content delivery and use period. We’d like to have things immediately, and only for a short amount of time (no storage, no need to catalog/organize), but always accessible for re-use.If we combine the above with the fact that streams indeed pay only a fraction of what downloads pay, my personal conclusion is that it will be very tough for the Major Labels to survive, and ideal for nimble and lean new-style indie music companies to thrive.For the majors to survive with severely reduced profit per unit (ceteris paribus) they would have to grow their market by a margin never before seen in the music business, and more akin to a super star tech start-up’s growth spurt. This is technically possible, but I just don’t see it happening. I think their best bet is to drastically reduce the number of employees and overhaul their business model. Hypebot recently published an article I wrote where I share a vision on what the music industry should/could look like in 2012, and the paragraph on Major Labels goes as follows (and note that this is written in a fictionalized future 2012):Major Labels – After EMI went bankrupt, and had to sell their publishing to Sony and their masters to Universal, the majors finally set into motion what they knew was their future all along. They acknowledged their strengths (radio and promotion clout, capital, infrastructure) and their weaknesses (knowing their customers, artist development, long-term thinking), and restructured themselves more along the lines of Venture Capital firms and add complimentary services. Jack Johnson is still with Universal, through his own label Brushfire, but now owns his own masters and has Universal handle distribution and certain forms of promotion picked off of an a la carte menu of services he can choose to use in exchange for additional points of profit split. He chose distribution (20%), radio promotion (5%), online promotion (5%) and music placement (10%), and splits the profit on the album so that 60% goes to himself and Brushfire, while Universal receives 40% (20+5+5+10). (Full article here: 2012, The Year We Finally Took Music Back)I think it is a given that we will be consuming music in a streaming format in the near future (in places where wireless technology and speed supports this). It is something we have to accept, anticipate and prepare for if we’d like to stay in business and not find ourselves the Yellow Pages to Google, the Block Buster to Netflix, the Borders to Amazon, etc. It’s something I’m always thinking about and working towards. What a thrilling challenge to be able to work on, and what a great evolution/revolution moment in an industry to be a part of.

          2. fredwilson

            i am so with youi have been calling for the end of file based media for a decadei think i was about a decade too early but it sure seems like the mainstreamis accepting streaming nownow we just need to the rights holders to price it correctly and makeeverything available in that format

          3. Wesley Verhoeve

            If only we could grab the major corporations that are the rights holders to many of the relevant pieces of content by the shoulders and shake them (gently) while chanting “open your eyes!” (peacefully).I’m having a hard time thinking of ways for smaller independent rights holders to make significant enough of an impact for it to kick consumption patterns into gear. It seems to be a bit of a chicken/egg situation. Will consumers choose streaming en masse without the most popular content’s availability in that format? And will major rights holders see the light as far as the preferred mode of consumption being streaming oriented, without the customer base being there in advance. A lot of indies have granted rights to Spotify and Rdio already, but Spotify probably won’t launch without the majors involvement.You’d think they’d at least be willing to take the chance to try it out on a “how could it hurt more than how we’re hurting now” basis, but the fear-based decision making process and the resistance to change is deeply ingrained in the traditional music industry. Rome is burning while the party continues…If you’d have the chance to read the full 2012 post (reading time aprox 5 minutes, word count: 1374 words) I’d be very curious to see what you think of the other paragraphs from your point of view as a music fan as well as a VC. I propose a new venture or two in there as well.

          4. Douglas Crets

            Again, look into magnetic.tvI’m not flacking for them. I think they understand what you are writing about and they can explain it better than I can n

  20. sull

    Apple would have been wise to NOT call this thing a Social Network and in fact, downplay it in the announcement as just some basic social assist features for Apple customer (iTunes user) purchases.By being clear about what this is and that it is not something that resembles all other social networks that people are accustomed to, they would have announced yet another unique Apple service (iTunes feature) instead of a horrid excuse for a “social network” with a plethora of media coverage. If they had their Facebook integration, it would have been much more useful/acceptable *if* users could share pings out to FB. But that apparently is another story.That said, I have never enjoyed using iTunes. I find it to be bloated and unintuitive despite the fact that I use it every day while working… for years. And I am a savvy technologist. So in my mind, if it sucks for this long and still has not grown on me, then it really is bad. Ping was not going to be something to make me like iTunes even if it was done “the right way”. The PR was all wrong on this and that was a bigger fail than the actual product.

  21. Scobleizer

    PING=Ping Is Not Good.Right now I can’t even follow more people and I get a lame error message when trying to do so (I saw you joined the system, but can’t follow you, Grrr).I agree with all your comments, and more.But, all that said, Apple has a real opportunity here to make iTunes much more sticky and interesting. Already I’ve discovered a ton of music in there and I’m seeing more every few hours as people switch from following their friends to liking their favorite music.That said, it sure seems like they rushed this to market without thinking things through and doing “an Apple job.”Why rush?Well, rumors are that Google has a social network coming for music.There are some other good things as well. This has me interested in music sharing again. So, off to follow you on

    1. ninakix

      That assumes that Apple has the ability to think through these things, Robert. I think rather like the App store, if this ends up being a success it’ll be mostly accidental – remember back to the days of the app store, originally Steve Jobs wanted to stick with web apps, only after much push for native apps from developers did they release that ability.In the meantime, I’ve switched to Amazon for buying music anyways, so I’m even less interested in this. At least from Amazon I get MP3s, and can put those on any music player I like.

      1. WritingTom

        Steve also said he didnt like the idea of screen less iPod. Hey, but there’s Shuffle. If there’s one thing to get about Steve, Dont take his words or apparent intentions literally.

  22. mikecarlucci

    I agree, but Apple tends to roll out features slowly, including things like Windows support. Ping may improve over time and become truly social. In the meantime check out It’s like Lala meets Twitter.

    1. WritingTom

      Though they like to improve things slowly, I donno what else they can do to Ping without shedding their ‘cool’ image.

  23. Peter Mullen

    The very idea of linking Steve Jobs to anything ‘social’ is laughable. Command and control is a very accurate characterization.

  24. Steven Kane

    wondering if your general dislike and distrust of AAPL isn’t overly coloring your view herei’ll go out on a limb and predict a decent likelihood you will later revisit Ping and despite your initial negativity, give it a more warm response – as happened with your thinking on iPad

    1. Harry DeMott

      I’ll take the other side of that bet.I think we are talking apples and oranges.There are a ton of services that does what ping is trying to do – and do it better – and I think Fred listed a few in the main post – and we’ve seen a few more in the comments section. So forcing a competitive product on folks who already have stuff that is working for them in a “command and control” way – will probably never bring them around.There’s nothing out there yet like the iPad.

    2. fredwilson

      could be stevethat’s why it is great to have this community – to keep me honesti came around on the iPad once i discovered what it is good fori’m not sure what Ping is good for, but if it is good for something, i may well come around

  25. Douglas Crets

    Fred, if you are interested in really great social networking ideas that incorporate music, real fans and celebrities, but not in a command control way, you really should check out Stephen Murray at Revimage Digital. spent many years with MTV, got sick of the command and control and decided, I think about six or seven years ago to make a completely real social network for live and video music, that put fans in touch with their celeb favorites. It’s also a really great platform for upcoming bands to find fans, and to distribute their music. They’ve had about two really good bands come out of this experiment.

    1. Douglas Crets

      Forgot to add, their thing is called Magnetic.tvLet me know if you want to talk to them. 🙂

  26. Thisisfresh

    I haven’t been that into Ping so far but think it could be useful as a sort of “music twitter”. Besides my friends I often find out about music by following Sasha Frere-Jones, Geeta Dayal, WIRE, etc. and I could see it being easier to listen in the same system than having to click to youtube or myspace.

  27. jasoncalacanis

    I wouldn’t worry about the obvious shortcomings. Apple has just dipped their toe into the space, and their trying to have a controlled release.They will make it more fluid and add the obvious features we all want–like hosting it on the web as well.Apple now has a social network in games and music. At the next keynote Jobs will release a “circle of friends” feature for iPhoto.With those three locked up, the obvious play would be a dedicated social network called Ping at it’s obvious this is what they are doing.

    1. fredwilson

      could well be the case Jasonbut they haven’t been able to make mobile me great yeti don’t think apple really gets web services

  28. Jeff Sayre

    In my opinion, one of the biggest issues with Ping is that it lives off Web. It is a closed data silo on a closed, private island. I wrote a post about Ping’s possible implications to the Social Web.

    1. fredwilson

      so true jeffthat was my first reaction to itit is itunes’ greatest problem

  29. jonathanjaeger

    Certainly doesn’t seem like a game-changer. I feel claustrophobic just having the profile within the iTunes application. Unless Apple comes up with a wildly innovative way of discovering music, I don’t see the point in adding another social network to the long list of ones that already exist. As someone who prefers the more artist-centric social networks (Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Myspace, etc.) to the more listener-centric ones (, Pandora), I don’t see Ping’s appeal. If I’m looking for new music that I’ve never heard before, I will probably be looking for artists I’ve never heard before, which will probably be harder to come across in an iTunes-based platform.

    1. Douglas Crets

      Again, this is why I think people should look at Magnetic.TvTheir whole purpose is for bands that have never before been heard can finda fan base, distribute their music and create their own “stations,” so tospeak.

  30. gbattle

    Let’s take a quick inventory of all of the assets available to the iTunes Ping service:1) Complete playlist, listening, reading, rating and app usage history across desktop, iPhone, iPad and iPod2) Seamless audio scrobbling of aforementioned history3) “Genius” technology for identifying similar tracks in your inventory and aggregating them4) The largest multimedia digital retailer in iTunes Store5) The codebase, team and vision6) Credit Card information7) Purchase history8) Email9) Gender10) Location (both residence and geolocation)With more explicit and implicit behavioral digital media consumption data than any other service on the planet, there is absolutely no “cold-start” problem for Ping. This is why Apple’s launch of Ping is both unbelievable and unforgivable, and the ire of iTunes users warranted.This is like the Dream Team losing the Olympics.

    1. ninakix

      Hi Greg (:What you’re saying IS true, and definitely makes the whole thing disappointing, but it’s not THAT surprising to me. Apple isn’t one of those companies that do or gets social – if you look at Mobile Me, it’s not like that product is really that fantastic either.

      1. gbattle

        Hi Nina! How’s Stanford treating you? :-DIt’s interesting to see so many huge social failures by established giants such as Apple, Wal-Mart (anyone remember their social network?), Google (still no idea what Wave is/was), etc. I would say that Ping, given the resources at hand, is a more surprising failure-at-launch than the others. There’s a big difference between being a champion of customer value (which all three have done in their sphere) and customer voice (which all three haven’t done). Many of the other comments here delve into this dichotomy re: control brilliantly.

        1. Douglas Crets

          Did Wal-Mart have a social network? I only remember them having a campaignonline run by Edelman, which didn’t actually reveal they were behind thisvery viral campaign. Did I miss something? I bet that was funny, if they didhave a social network.

          1. gbattle

            They most certainly did have a social network and it was as comical as you can imagine.

          2. Douglas Crets

            Wow, I better get on the bus!

        2. ninakix

          Hmm… interesting. I’ll have to read more.One thing about social is, I think its become harder for executives and decision makers to understand this quite as much. Since this space really started getting interesting in the last few years, most of these executives have not ever had an “average” social experience, and may have a harder time understanding exactly what makes things tick – and further, knowing who to listen to.I think one of the hardest things for these groups to understand is actually how these public spaces tend to be self-policing. The traditional image is, “If you let people onto the stage, all hell will break loose.” But in these social situations, your actions are observed and judged by your followers, and this kind of thing tends to have a very strong social influence. Sure, communities akin to 4chan do occasionally rise up, and hell breaking loose is generally appreciated there (even though they do have their own somewhat perverted sense of morals), but that’s the exception, not the rule.

          1. ShanaC

            i don’t think it is the exception nor the rule. I think there will be a larger role for community managers to play in the future- it’s guided society. Most people forget how much a role gentility has played- if businesses executives can and have taken courses on manners, then why wouldn’t there be a manners patrol on the internet is beyond me.

          2. ninakix

            I think I disagree. There’s immense value in community managers, but I think more in a role to understand and direct the wishes of the community – both with the company, and in the few cases when necessary within the community. One of my favorite communities rarely ever has intervention – it’s only when a troll fight goes 50 comments deep that they eject said person. The community self regulates, using tools of attention, argument, etc.

          3. ShanaC

            I think ultimately the roll of community managers is an activist one. They model. As you say, they direct the wishes of the community and understand them, but the only way to do that is to be deep in the muck of the community and to be modeling mensch-like behavior in it.

    2. fredwilson

      excellent commentand i love that last linebrilliant

  31. David Semeria

    I like your stance on Apple, Fred.They’re obviously still hurting from getting shafted by the Borg in the eighties.But what they’re doing now is excessive – and will ultimately come back and bite them big time.

    1. WritingTom

      You talk like you live in another world dude!

  32. @jasonphenke

    The key to ping is not to create a social network, but integrate with existing social platforms. iTunes has power in that it is the main source for many people to purchase their music. Apple needs to use this power to share their user experiences across existing platforms.@Jasonphenke

    1. PeterisP

      At the moment, it looks like that Apple has decided not to do that, much of the fail-situations with Ping are actually about Apple avoiding basic integration possibilities that most users naturally expect to be there.

  33. Ohayou


    1. David Semeria

      Surely you mean Balzac?

  34. vruz

    I just dropped by for amusement reading the upset and disappointed on their Apple faith.There’s a hole so huge in Apple’s way of doing things that you can drive a few dozen startups through it.And that’s lovely.

  35. Martin Montero

    Ping: A hyper proprietary design & old school push marketing’s marriage of convenience around their adopted child “social” media.

  36. paramendra

    Greaaaat post. Entertaining. Informative.

  37. ShanaC

    I’m skipping all social networks involving music or tv until I can find one that can guestimate what content I will like. Currently, all systems give me panic attacks and/or make me cry.I have no idea how the Fred Wilson radio works- as in how do you find music. The end goal of me joining a system would be for me to make my own radio, with new music happening all the time. How am I to do this, I don’t know but when I saw Ping in this push to me model, I knew it was not for me.I actually do like Boxee quite a lot, it grew on me. I just need some people to follow and a way for content to surface, and I think I will be in heaven. Why is that an impossible dream for music. Please! Save the young’uns from bad music!

  38. Rahul Deodhar

    I think Steve Jobs should try connecting with people, establish a friend network and then go from there. The reason his products are the best is because he uses them or knows the needs related to them. So happens with everyone in product industry.Products can be used in isolation – social media cannot. The problem with social media for large companies is that the decision makers do not have our social life. Theirs is restricted (designed to limit contact with potential time wasters) life. Ours is reach-out-to-connect life. Naturally new social products come from young and / or non-famous people. That said, it does not mean the most socially connected person can design a good social network idea.

  39. Mike Geer (MG)

    Sorry, late to the game. For some reason I receive my email alerts of your new post a day late, Fred.Love to see my own thoughts about Ping (and Apple) reasserted by a person with more clout than I. Although, I speak from my own experience with userflow and social with are the thoughts that I ran to post within seconds of trying Ping:”Didn’t think this was possible, but Ping makes me dislike Apple even more. In fact, I think it may be time for another East Coast – West Coast war. Cali v NY – bring it”” I’ve noticed that Californian startups and tech companies seem to get more and more disconnected from the reality of user life outside of California. Ping is useless. Loopt sent me a great offer of free tickets from Cali to Mexico, when they know full well that I live in New York. So now that I’m here, I think New York, Boston and the East Coast in general needs to start fighting for the tech recognition that it deserves ;)”East coast vs West coast tech war. Good idea? Fun, at least?

  40. Daniele Calabrese

    All here said is great…however interacting with friends about music is an on-line thing… what about mobile? Well this is what soundtrckr is for…. hope you will enjoy it.

  41. plerudulier

    The moment I understood Ping was an app to be downloaded I thought of the impossibility to be a social plateform like other music plateforms are (,, deezer, etc.). That Apple wants to make a business out of Ping is understandable, what is not is to sell its solution as social. It’s misleading and it’s unfair.

  42. needcaffeine

    totally agree. I downloaded the latest version to check it out & was quite unimpressed. Last.FM has been around for awhile & is a great catalog system with Socializing built-in. Blip.FM is a great way to distribute music & listen to friends. Though of late, Spotify has been kept most of my attention. I can listen to a range of music, create lists & share to my Facebook friends (just wish it would do Twitter). The obvious issue with it is the lack of US access at the moment. (I use a cheap UK VPN to connect).if PING supported music which wasn’t bought on iTunes & sorted it out like Last.FM it would be a better Social Network. (Also great annoyance is the inability to have PING open in a separate window from the library)

    1. someToast

      A double-click on Ping in the sidebar will open it in its own window.

      1. needcaffeine

        thanks will give it a try. tried Commad+N to open new window (worked in 9, not in 10)

  43. WritingTom

    Vehemently oppose Apple?

  44. FrankTurner

    Fred, please forgive this non-brainy comment …You have great taste in music.I’m listening while reading blogs, smoking a stogie, and sipping a mellow cabernet, and having a nice time of it.I owe you a relaxing Labor Day “Thank You.”

    1. fredwilson

      excellent way to enjoy labor day