“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. “
So Apple held a press conference to announce marginal improvements in the iPod Touch and a nano Nano (developed on “Ork” no doubt!). Great. The only somewhat interesting news that was unveiled yesterday was the new social media Ping feature in iTunes 10.
Many have started to comment on Ping’s relevance, many disseminating the idea that Ping was designed to aid in the adoption of and sell more iTunes, increasing profits. Of course that is the reason. I mean, did I miss the part of the press release where Apple declared it was now a 501C?
The question is, does it have value to me/us, not does it make Apple money. If it is valuable as a tool, who cares if Apple makes money on its existence?
The problem is, I don’t see it as being a valuable tool. And I’m in the Audio Video industry, my viewpoint should be slanted in Ping’s favor.
Ping is designed to allow people to share their musical preferences with friends and family. It allows others to see what music you buy and in turn “follow” your choices to make musical purchases of their own. The problem is that Apple’s library, while huge, is not comprehensive. I mean they don’t even have THE BEATLES for goodness sake!!! Ping will not be successful if it cannot tie in music on a user’s PC from other sources, i.e. uploaded discs, internet radio services, or other download services.
Barry Schwartz gave an example of this in his book Paradox of Choice. Only when you have a relatively large selection, can you take personal responsibility for something being novel, good, or bad. How can someone who is passionate about music, about sharing the new and unheard, do this in a strictly iTunes environment, where much of their favorite music is not available?
Social Media is reliant on people wanting to share and reflects on them personally. People like this will not let the iTunes library limit their sharing, make their choices look predictable and trendy, or require them to re-purchase content in an AAC file just to recommend it. In fact, true audiophiles, won’t even use iTunes because of the compression inherent in the format.
Existing social music sites like Last.fm and Blip.fm only have to add a “friend” and follow” feature, or promote their Twitter interfaces, and people will flock there instead.
Ping will inevitably live in iTunes for as long as Apple decides to code for it and its Genius counterpart. I have a feeling though that most who use Ping will be those who are happy with a strict diet of Pop and Top 40, and don’t care about audio quality. Who would take their recommendations to heart anyway? You could get the same advice from Seacrest on Sunday morning on the radio.