Filed under: Feature, TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Alexandra Petsavas, Apple, Facebook, iTunes, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Last.fm, Mark Zuckerberg, Micki Krimmel, Myspace, Pandora, Ping, Steve Jobs, Telephone, The Acorn, Twitter
Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?
Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.
If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.
Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:
1) What Do I Care About Most?
Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel
It’s the Music Stupid.
Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.
Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:
Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?
Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.
Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.
3) What type of Music Defines You?
On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.
Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.
**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…
4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes
Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.
5) News Feed Overload
After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.
So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.
Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.
“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa
Filed under: ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: AOL, Ashton Kutcher, CNN, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Skype, Time Warner, Twitter
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to have rejected a fresh round of funding that would have valued the company at $4 billion. Another source says that one potential investor submitted a term sheet for a valuation of around $2 billion. Facebook is declining to comment. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10220845-36.html 4/16)
Time Warner’s bondholders have agreed to change the terms of their debt contracts, removing restrictions on a sale or spin-off of its beleaguered Internet unit AOL. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has said he is examining options for the future structure of AOL. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSTRE53F73S20090416 4/16)
While eBay prepares to unload Skype via a sale or IPO next year, it is busy looking for new ways to make money off its 405 million global users. They already account for an estimated 8 percent class=”snap_preview_icon”> of international calls, and many of them are increasingly paying for SkypeOut calls to regular phones. Its revenues last year were $551 million, but it wants to get to $1 billion by 2011. To get there, it might have to start thinking local. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/a-new-business-model-for-skype-turning-phone-numbers-on-the-web-into-paid-ads/ 4/17)
Ashton Kutcher has surpassed CNN to become the first person with a million followers on Twitter. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/kutcher-plays-his-pied-piper-flute-and-gets-a-million-twitter-followers/ 4/16)
Not sure who else to add to that group email? Gmail Labs now has a useful “suggest more recipients” <!—->class=”snap_preview_icon”> feature that suggests contacts that you might want to include in a group email based on the people you’ve grouped together as email recipients in the past. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/gmail-now-suggests-extra-recipients-for-group-emails/ 4/17)
SUPER helpful. Maybe now I won’t get yelled at for accidentally not inviting that person for cocktails.
Police are working with Craigslist to help track down the killer of masseuse Julissa Brisman, who was shot to death Tuesday in the Marriott Copley Place in Boston. Police believe that a gunman may be targeting escorts and masseuses who advertise on the classifieds site. (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1165974 4/16)
Despite some early fumbling by the prosecution, a judge in Sweden handed down a guilty verdict class=”snap_preview_icon”> today in the case against The Pirate Bay class=”snap_preview_icon”>, the popular BitTorrent search site. The four founders, who still seem to think this is a big joke, each face one year of jail time and a $3.6 million fine. The site will continue to function for now as they appeal the decision. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/as-court-prepares-shackles-for-the-pirate-bay-other-torrent-sites-are-ready-to-replace-it/ 4/17)
The latest layer to be turned on in Google Maps is one for webcams. Just click on the “More” button on the top right of each map right next to the “Traffic” button. When you do that, it shows you thumbnails from different public Webcams around the world as tracked by Webcams.travel. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/google-maps-now-shows-views-from-webcams 4/16)
What if there was a Billboard Charts for the music people really listened to and talked about on the Web. We Are Hunted wants to be that definitive online music chart. The service monitors the most popular songs on iLike, BitTorrent, Last.fm, MySpace Music, and other Web music services, as well as discussions on Twitter, blogs, and press sites. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/forget-billboard-we-are-hunted-charts-the-music-people-are-listening-to-on-the-web/ 4/16)
About 34% of U.S. e-commerce can be attributed to Amazon, an analyst says. The value of all e-commerce activity on its platform is about $12.5 billion in the U.S., or a little more than a third of the $37 billion the Commerce Department reported in the last quarter of 2008. StorefrontBacktalk (4/16)
ESPN is set to kick off ESPNDB.com (the DB stands for database), a site it hopes will serve as a sports encyclopedia-archive-statistical compendium. Like Wikipedia, ESPNDB will feature some user-generated aspects. The site will be free and supported by advertising. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=104294 4/17)
NBC.com reached a milestone – its NBC Rewind streaming video player has delivered over one billion full episode streams, just 18 months since the launch of the player in October 2006. NBC also says its mobile website served 2.4 million video streams in Q1 2000 – more than the total number of streams served in all of 2008. (Cynopsis 4/17)
Continuing with its price cutting maneuvers, Yahoo announced it is shuttering video sharing service Jumpcut as of June 15, a company it acquired back in 2006 for its best-in-class photo editing tools. The company is also gearing up for another round of job cuts, according to a report in the NYTimes. Yahoo shed some 2,400 employees last year, beginning 2009 with some 13,600 staffers. (Cynopsis 4/17)