Apple will soon shut down its music-focused social network Ping in favor of partnerships with Facebook and Twitter, according to an online report. Since its launch with iTunes 10 about 21 months ago, Ping has failed to gain much traction with users. Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted as much earlier in June during an interview at the D10 conference saying that most Apple customers have decided not to "put a lot of energy" into Ping.
At the time, Cook suggested Apple had yet to decide on Ping's fate, but now All Things D reports that Ping will be shut down with the next major release of iTunes--presumably iTunes 11. The social network is still operational in iTunes 10.6.3, the latest version of Apple's multimedia software, and in iOS 5. But Ping in the developer beta of iOS 6 is currently non-functional; it's not clear if that's a sign of Ping's imminent demise or if Ping will start working in iOS 6 at a later date.
Ping was supposed to be Apple's big push into social with a music-based network built into iTunes on the desktop and iOS devices. Ping allowed you to follow updates from your favorite artists, broadcast your iTunes purchases to friends, share samples of songs you like, and find concert information about artists you follow. Apple described Ping as "Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes."
Ping gained more than one million users less than 48 hours after launching, but users soon balked at the service's commercial nature. Apple's social network was more about discovering music to purchase on iTunes than creating digital communities around artists or finding users with like-minded musical tastes. Ping also lacked basic social networking features like a way to broadcast status updates or post interesting third-party content such as a Rolling Stone interview with your favorite band.
Pingville: The Real Social Networking Ghost Town
Ping is still running, but artists and users appear to have largely abandoned it. Of the several artists I follow on Ping such as Coldplay Gorillaz, Ingrid Michaelson, Jack Johnson, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, and U2, only Katy Perry and Coldplay are still posting to the social network with any regularity. And their connection to Ping is lackluster at best since both are just feeding official tweets into iTunes and doing little else. Lady GaGa, who maintains a massive following on Facebook and was featured during Ping's 2010 introduction, has been MIA on the iTunes-based social network for more than a year.
Apple and Social: The Second Coming
The news that Ping may soon be gone is not surprising and is probably for the best. Instead of trying to grow its own network, Apple has smartly decided to tap into the power of Facebook and Twitter. The company in 2011 launched iOS 5 with built-in Twitter integration to easily post content such as photos and Web pages to the popular service.
With iOS 6 and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion for the Mac, Apple is getting even more social with both Twitter and Facebook integration built right into the new operating systems. Mac users will be able to easily share content on both social networks, receive Facebook and Twitter notifications automatically, and your Facebook friends can be added to your contacts. You will be able to use similar features in iOS 6, and the iPhone 4S and third-generation iPad will also offer Siri functionality to update your Facebook or Twitter status.
So don't despair Ping fans, your social network may soon be gone, but Apple's products are about to get even friendlier.