Ping Response Time

It’s no secret that pretty much everyone thinks Apple’s Ping feature in iTunes 10 would take significant improvement in order to qualify as a “disappointment,” and I doubt that any of what I suggest below hasn’t been anticipated (better) by more prominent Mac-bloggers — but I won’t let that stop me! So here goes my capsule account of what it would take for Ping to be worth anyone’s trouble.
First and foremost, Ping must recognise that people can buy media files from sources other than Apple. It needn’t direct you to other sources, but it has to at least recognise the existence of media from other sources. Incredibly, if I play something on iTunes that I got from eMusic, Ping looks the other direction and pretends not to notice; it only perks up and pays attention if I play one of the relatively few files I bought directly from iTunes. I know, I know, Apple wants to encourage you to think of the iTunes Music Store as the only place to buy digital media, but they stand to benefit much more if their recommendation engines and their buzz-generating network are source-blind. If I download the new Arcade Fire album from eMusic and I love it, play it constantly, and want to urge my friends to buy it — but Ping ignores all these facts — Apple is not going to sell one more copy of that album. If on the other hand they permit and encourage me to rave about th album even though I downloaded it from eMusic, they stand to harvest some of the buying that my vast influence swings.
Second, they have to make Ping’s networking capacities more encouraging. It’s awfully hard to browse for friends (or artists) on Ping; the muscle of a network such as Ping increases markedly if it encourages you to link to friends, but for the time being Ping says “You can link to friends if you can find them, and if you really want to.” Meh; no thanks.
After those two, my recommendations get less far-reaching. The interface looks minimally interesting. The “Music I Like” box should rotate selections through based on your own ratings, already featured into your iTunes database. They should take advantage of what they already know about you (iTunes database, Genius recommendations) to present you and your links with a very much richer environment for users’ media-preference identity. (Again, this is data to which they already have access.) They could cross-compare “biggest fans,” or “most recent person to play ‘Free Bird’” or ““highest proportion of five-star ratings” or “lowest proportion of one-star ratings” or other such data samples. Getting interesting figures and correlations out in the open is a big fat win for Apple, but it depends (again) on letting Ping recognise other-sourced media files.
It’s no secret that I’m a long-term, consistent, expansive Apple enthusiast, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t distinguish good, nutritious, juicy apples from worm-infested rotten ones. Ping suggests urgent need for a team of horticulturalists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *