Daily Marauder


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:



2) Follow?

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

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Guest Writer: Martha Rivera

A sold out crowd gathered at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY last night for the unveiling of the Boxee beta as well as to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated Beta Box.

Launched in 2008, Boxee is software that aggregates media content from the web and your personal computer and streams it on your HD television. It searches web based content providers like YouTube, Netflix, MySpaceTV, Blip.TV, CBS.com, Revision3, flickr, and Pandora, among others and brings the content straight to your living room television. Missing still from the list of content providers is the online video site, Hulu. In addition to streaming web content, it also pulls media content from your own personal computer including your ITunes, personal videos and pictures. Boxee is an open source platform allowing users to create their own apps. To date, there are over 300.

“Our biggest challenge is distribution,” said Boxee CEO Avner Ronen.   The hurdle is getting cable affiliates and major content providers, like Hulu on board. At the core of the problem is fear of piracy and concern that the advertising is stripped from the content. However, Boxee pulls online content as is, which includes the advertising that is attached to it. Boxee also has the ability to track a host of analytics far outweighing television’s usage reporting. Ronen is hoping media companies and cable providers will become comfortable once they understand usage.

Four weeks ahead of its wide release at CES, Ronen introduced the beta software and Boxee Box, as well as announced the launch of 3 new apps: the hipster soft-core site Suicide Girls, the online gamer e-zine The Escapist and Clicker, TV guide, entertainment search engine and DVR all rolled into one.

Boxee Beta

Overall, Boxee Beta looks great and is much more user-friendly. The UI has been streamlined with a new layout. The menu, previously hidden, is now front and center. The home screen has been redesigned to feature the main menu, featured content, personal queue and the friend feed.

My favorite social networking feature is the ability to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Any media that your friends or followers share with you will automatically populate on your queue. Too busy to watch videos at work? Don’t have the ability to watch video because you don’t have an office or are on the go? Another feature allows a viewer to send media assets to your queue so you can watch when you get home.

The search function has also been streamlined. Now users can search for movies, TV shows as well as local and online content at once. Boxee Beta populates all content from your computer as well as from any web source that works with Boxee. Of note, you can now mark content as “watched.” Better yet, the search function lets you omit “watched” content from the results.

Boxee focused specifically on TV shows in the Beta redesign. TV shows are now organized by season and episode. You can follow your favorite TV shows, and like Hulu, it will automatically populate your queue with new episodes.

Another new feature is the Global Menu. This menu is essentially the shortcuts screen. It provides quick access to predetermined shortcuts, favorite apps, history, and settings.

Other features include allowing users to interact with the apps without having to download them, a now playing button on every screen allowing easier navigation back to the player, a new Last.fm and flickr interface as well as a main background that changes based on the time of day.

As of this writing, 85% of Boxee’s 700,000 users use a Mac. However, Boxee Beta has not forgotten about its Windows’ friends. It will now run on Direct X, which will mean a better experience for the PC user.

Boxee Box by D-Link

The night also included the highly anticipated unveiling of the Boxee Box. Boxee partnered with D-Link, better known as the makers of wireless routers, to create the hardware. Astro Studios, the cutting edge designers behind products like the X-Box 360 and Nike, designed the sleek cube. This small black submerged cube will sit on top of the many boxes taking up space near your TV. The guys at Boxee hope that eventually you’ll do away with all those boxes and just use the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Box will retail at $200 and will be available for distribution sometime in 2Q10.

Why Boxee?

I’m a three-screen user. I watch TV, while surfing on my laptop, with my phone not far away. Having used the Alpha, I don’t know if I can give up my computer that easily. As I was navigating the web content on Boxee, I found my multi-tasking self wanting to toggle out of the screen to search the web while the video played. Because I was unfamiliar with the navigation, or more like because I’m a specific type of navigator, all of a sudden I felt trapped. According to Andrew Kippen, VP of Marketing, “Boxee is about fighting tradition. It’s streamlining your viewing experience by consolidating it all into one. Boxee is the tip of the iceberg for what’s possible.”

The Boxee Beta version seems much more straightforward. It’s easy-to-use features will allow users to not feel so (excuse the pun) boxed in. Then again, in this case, that’s what the creators of Boxee want you to do. Engage with the content within the box.

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Comscore worldwide data says Digg, Twitter and Facebook have 32 million, 58 million and 411 million unique monthly visitors (September 2009), respectively. Google Trends says much the same thing, but the growth over time is fascinating visually. (Techcrunch11/4)

Twitter Digg Facebook

MySpace, once the centerpiece of Rupert Murdoch’s digital strategy, has fallen “significantly” short of expectations and is jeopardising a critical $900m internet search agreement with Google. (Financial Times 11/4)

Google launched Google Commerce Search, a new search engine that online retailers can install on their websites to provide Google style speed and efficiency for customers when they search for products. (Mashable11/5)

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Apple is trying to round up programming support to offer a $30-a-month subscription-television service. The Wall Street Journal says Apple’s “over-the-top” service in theory could rival cable television, given it can offer programmers a base of 100 million customers through iTunes. The Wall Street Journal/Digits blog (11/2)

Apple sub

Best Buy Co., the world’s largest electronics retailer, will start an online store for movies and television shows that will compete with Apple Inc.’s iTunes. (Bloomberg11/3)

Last week Google launched the Music Onebox — a special new search result that lets users stream songs in their entirety for free. The feature is being powered through partnerships with MySpace and Lala who are providing the song streams, with contributions from a host of other partners like Pandora and imeem. Millions of people will doubtless stumble across the new feature on their own as they run searches for their favorite bands, but Google also has a few tricks up its sleeve to get the word out. We’re hearing that a number of well known artists will soon be actively promoting the service, offering exclusive content to fans who Google them.

Tres smart marketing promotion. Tres Tres smart, The word of mouth on this should be intense. Nice move Google. Very nice. (Techcrunch11/3)

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Welcome to Jelli, user-controlled radio. This past week, I had the chance to catch up with Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, at Digital Hollywood to ask him some questions about the site. Incidentally, Mike is not the lead singer of the band Soul Coughing as I had excitedly thought before meeting him. Apparently, I am not the only person to make this mistake.

The Product

Here’s the jist. Log on, start listening, and start voting music up or down based on what you want to listen to you. Others will do the same. The combinations of all of that voting will determine what comes next in the playlist. If you really want to hear that Herbie Hancock track, “rocket” it to the top of the list. If you really can’t stand that Citizen Cope song, “bomb” it out of the playlist. I come from a traditional radio background, and as a DJ for 5 years, I was quite used to the programmed playlist that neither I nor the listener had any control over. The playlist was dictated by a number of rotations coordinated in advance by the radio Program Director, band manager, and artist. In essence, if you requested something, there was pretty much no chance in hell that it was getting on air. This web site flips the switch on the whole radio industry.

The Hotness

Pandora, MySpace Music, iTunes, and pretty much any other online music service you can think of are very one-to-one types of experiences. You pick the music and based on what you are selecting, in certain cases, the service recommends additional music it thinks you will like.

Jelli brings the social aspects of traditional radio back to the forefront allowing users to each play DJ selecting and voting on music as the playlist runs its course. In addition, every Sunday on Live 105 in San Francisco from 10PM – Midnight, what plays on Jelli plays on traditional radio. It should come as no surprise that this is the most highly trafficked time for Jelli.

The Lameness

I would much rather listen to music that I and a few of my friends are selecting rather than listening with the main group. I don’t really need to hear that Soundgarden song once an hour and I know my friends would never subject me to that. Also, giving new users more power seems to be a must. On my first try to the service, a track that I had rocketed to the top was quickly bombed by another user and removed from the playlist. Sad face. Dougherty claims that this may be on the horizon.

What Comes Next

Jelli will be nationally syndicated allowing any radio station to follow the Live 105 lead and empower listeners on their airwaves. In addition, 5 stations in Australia will also begin carrying Jelli as of November. Live DJs? Also on the way. Also, users will eventually be enticed with incentives for their participation in the site.

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October 23, 2009, 3:53 PM
Filed under: ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: , , , , , , ,


For those who like renting movies, Hollywood may soon have a message: Prepare to wait. In an effort to push consumers toward buying more movies, some major film studios are considering a new policy that would block DVDs from being offered for rental until several weeks after going on sale. (LA Times 10/23)

This is ridiculous. So now, the thought process is that consumers will simply accept that they can no longer get Netflix movies in the same time frame and go out to buy one instead of renting? Come on. This will force advanced users to the bitorrents to illegally download. There is a difference in strategy between renting and buying. If I don’t want to permanently own something, this coercion won’t change anything. It will really just piss me off. And…prepare for angry comments on Netflix.


Hulu, the free online video site where television shows and movies can be watched in their entirety, will start charging fees at some point, one of its owners said. (AP10/22)

MySpace launched its own music video site a week before the planned launch of Vevo. Build playlists, search for and browse curated, popular and recently added embeddable ad supported music videos. The Artist Dashboard interface provides access to charts, graphs, and snapshots of MySpace Music data for all global artists, documenting fan geography, song plays, profile views, friend count, and profile visitors. An integration with iLike also provides top-line data from iLike partner networks. (Cynopsis 10/23)

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A year ago Facebook had super growth around the world, but U.S. growth was flat and we pondered the real value of all these worldwide users. At that time it would have taken Facebook more than four years to catch up to MySpace in the U.S. In January we re-ran the numbers and the trend suggested January 2010. Today that has all dramatically changed – MySpace has 70 million monthly U.S. uniques (Comscore, March 2009), less than they did a year ago. Meanwhile, Facebook has surged to 61 million U.S. users and are adding a few million more every month. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/18/myspace-is-in-real-trouble-if-these-page-view-declines-dont-reverse/ 5/18)


Twitter is developing add-on tools for businesses and professionals, which could create a revenue stream for the microblogging service, says co-founder Biz Stone. Twitter doesn’t plan to pursue advertising, he adds, because it could end up annoying users. (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://www.reuters.com/article/GlobalTechnology09/idUSTRE54H5CP20090518 5/18)

Facebook’s recent redesign makes the social network closely resemble Twitter, according to Twitter creator Jack Dorsey. “We’re definitely flattered because it is moving more into our direction,” he says. “They may get more and more close to what we’re doing.” (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/05/twitter-jack-dorsey-nielsen.html 5/18)


Napster has announced its latest relaunch plan, the company’s first since being bought by Best Buy last year. Under the new plan, customers will pay $5 a month for unlimited streaming music and 5 MP3 downloads per month. VentureBeat (5/18) , Reuters (5/18)

If newspapers want to get their online revenue growing, according to media buyers, they need to tie ad rates more closely to results, charge less for ads and provide Web content that readers can’t get at news aggregators. “CPMs have got to be in line with the online marketplace.” (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/newspapers-pressured-to-change-online-ad-approach 5/18)

Disney is opening DisneyStore.com, a new site offering merchandise from its theme parks, as the entertainment group seeks new revenue sources. The site will sell Mickey Mouse ears and other items that were previously only available at Disney parks and resorts. (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSTRE54I0L320090519 5/19)

Disney store

(Below)  That’s like the CEO of Chrysler telling people to not use their cars.  Is this the Bugs Bunny technique?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the University of Pennsylvania’s commencement ceremony in Philadelphia, recommends college graduates to turn off their computers and discover the humanity around them. Economic downturns can be a time for innovation, he says. (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090518/ap_on_hi_te/pa_google_penn 5/18)

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