Thursday, Sep 03, 2020, 15:11 Software

10 years ago: Apple announced the release of a new social network, “Ping”—a colossal failure

Even success spoiled companies such as Apple are unable to remain entirely immune to product flops, products which fail to establish themselves on the market and are ultimately shelved. Ping was most certainly considered a product flop at Apple HQ, not achieving its mission statement of bringing together iTunes users and artists. The former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, terminated Ping 10 years ago during an iPod event.

The Cupertino social network was supposed to be a mix between FaceBook, Twitter, and iTunes, according to Jobs. It differed from other top competitors in social media in that the focus was on music. However, the majority of the, at the time, almost 160 million iTunes users remained almost completely uninterested.

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Debut in September, 2010
Apple announced the release of Ping on the 1st of September in 2010. The social network was a new service within the iTunes app, with the goal of connecting fans and musicians. Similarly to FaceBook, users and performers were able to follow other users and publish posts. In addition, users were able to pick favorite songs and albums, to showcase their taste in music.

Reasons for the “Flop”
Ping seemed quite promising at first glance: millions of iTunes users with an intense interest in music were clearly just waiting to connect with musicians in the iTunes Store—and vice versa. Unfortunately for Ping, it didn’t quite pan out this way in reality—and for multiple reasons. For starters, the current dominance of FaceBook and Twitter was already so apparent at the time that it would have inevitably been difficult for any social network to establish itself adequately on the market—even one from such a large company as Apple and despite having a specific focus (music) in comparison to its competition. Apple also found themselves facing accusations of releasing Ping only to bolster sales in the iTunes Store.

As a part of the iTunes Store, Ping lacked the flexibility, platform independence, and diversity offered by browser based social media services like FaceBook. In addition, Apple was quite neglectful in their treatment of Ping, as requests for more interaction beyond the iTunes Store and its content remained unanswered. To only further Ping’s push towards product flop, a deal between FaceBook and Apple was reportedly broken. The deal’s intent was to guarantee a close degree of integration between the two services.

Ping’s Flop followed by "Apple Music Connect”
Apple shutdown Ping after 2 mostly unsuccessful years. The service’s final curtain fell on the 30th of September, 2012. With the market launch of Apple Music in 2015, Apple tried (with new effort) to release a new social network for customers and performers—failing yet again and eventually burying “Apple Music Connect” in 2018. So much for learning from mistakes?

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