iTunes Ping, or simply Ping, was a software-based, music-oriented social networking and recommender system service developed and operated by Apple Inc. It was announced and launched on September 1, 2010, as part of the tenth major release of iTunes. The service launched with 1 million members[a] in 23 countries.
Type of site
|Social network service|
|Users||> 1 million after 48 hours; discontinued|
|Launched||September 1, 2010|
|Current status||Discontinued September 30, 2012|
After Ping's official announcement on September 1, 2010, Karsten Manufacturing, the parent company of PING, a golfing equipment manufacturer, released a statement regarding the name of Apple's social network, stating that Karsten Manufacturing had entered into an agreement with Apple under which Apple will use the "Ping" trademark in connection with its iTunes application. The name has also caused minor confusion as the term "to ping", which was being used by users of Ping, is already a commonly used but unrelated computer term used in conjunction with Ping networking utility.
Ping was announced by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs as being "sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," but stating that "Ping is not Facebook" and "it is not Twitter," instead describing it as "something else ... all about music." Many have speculated that Ping was meant to compete directly with the declining MySpace, which is still holding on to its existence through music.
The announcement was endorsed by both Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, who closed the event by performing "Viva La Vida" and "Yellow", as well as an unreleased song titled "Wedding Bells", and Lady Gaga who introduced the social network in a recorded video message that was played as part of the practical demo of the service. Lady Gaga's pro-LGBT posts were censored from promo shots by Apple.
During Apple's announcement of Ping, chief executive Steve Jobs gave a demo of the service in which he demonstrated the basic functionality of the service, including Facebook integration. However, shortly after Ping was released to the public, users began to report that Facebook's social integration had been removed.
Kara Swisher, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, reported that after speaking to Steve Jobs regarding the matter, he had revealed that Facebook and Apple had failed to reach an agreement. Jobs further reported that Facebook wanted "onerous terms that [Apple] could not agree to." However, Apple launched Ping with Facebook integration without authorization, and that subsequently, Facebook implemented a block, denying Ping access to the application programming interface (API), necessary in "linking" Facebook with Ping. The result was the inability to search for an iTunes user’s friends on Facebook who were also connected to Ping.
Twenty-four hours after Ping was launched to the public, reports of the service being flooded with spam were published. The fraudsters would create an iTunes profile and post links to a number of online scams, including ones that promised "free iPhones" or "free iPads" in exchange for filling out online surveys. For the most part, these suspicious links were being posted in the comments sections of popular artists on Ping, such as Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and U2, all of whom were among the recommended accounts listed on the Ping homepage.
Security vendor Sophos expressed bemusement that Apple had allegedly set up no spam or URL filtering in Ping, leaving the service open to spam commenting. MacRumors reported that the "first 'free iPhone' spam wave remained active for up to four hours before being disabled." PC World noted that if Sophos' claims are correct it would be very "surprising ... considering that Apple appears to be filtering profile photos."
On September 2, 2010, singer-songwriter Ben Folds reported via Twitter that an account had been created in his name, continuing to mention that he is unaware as to who had created it. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said it is "used to ... scams like this being spread far and wide via sites like Facebook, but clearly the lack of filtering on Ping is making it a brand new playground for [scammers] to operate in."
The service was initially available in 23 countries where users have full access to the iTunes Store. Therefore, users in countries with limited or no access to the iTunes Store, such as Chile, the Czech Republic, Croatia and India, were unable to access Ping.
Apple closed the service on September 30, 2012 and replaced it in iTunes with Facebook and Twitter integration. Ping failed to gain much traction with users. The social network remained operational until iTunes 10.6.3.
Users of Ping were able to view what music their friends are purchasing and reviewing. Users also received a personalized "charts" list that features what other people with a similar taste in music are listening to through iTunes. Additionally, users were informed about what concerts their friends were attending and were able to purchase tickets accordingly.
There are favorable reviews of Ping. Business Insider reported that it was "impressed" and "could see using [the service] regularly." Wired gave the service a favorable review, stating that "Ping has significant advantages against other music-oriented social networks." GigaOM wrote that it foresees Ping as being "the future of Social Commerce." ReadWriteWeb concluded that the service is "OK", stating that it has "potential." MacTech listed several complaints voiced by early adopters (such as Ping's lack of podcast and iOS app integration), but ultimately concluded that the service could eventually become "a pretty useful social network for music junkies."
The Guardian criticised the lack of existing social network integration, and NowPublic continued to criticise the absence of major artists and users inability to perform "basic" social networking interactions, such as posting status updates.CNN rated Ping as one of the ten biggest tech 'fails' of 2010. In the same "top 10" list there are Apple's iPhone 4 Antennagate, Google Buzz and Digg relaunch. 
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- Folds, Ben (September 2, 2010). "To be precise: As of 11am Pacific Time I was not aware of a Ping account in my name. At present I don't know who created said account. Ping?". Twitter. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
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