Apple's Ping Social Network Is Actually Good, And It Has Huge Potential

steve jobs katie cotton ping

We’ve just taken our first tour through Apple’s social network, Ping, and we must admit we’re impressed.

When we first heard about Ping we were sceptical. Who needs ANOTHER social network in their life? But after taking a look at it, we could actually see using it regularly.

We’ve played with a lot of web-based music networks. We tested Rdio, we were avid users of Lala, and we had an eMusic subscription. We’ve purchased music from iTiunes, Amazon, and we’ve downloaded some songs without express written consent, if you know what we mean.

In other words, we been around the block when it comes to music on the Internet.

So far, we think Apple has done a really good job with Ping. Is it going to be a big business for Apple? Probably not.  But if it works well it will be a great product to lock in users to iPhones, iPods, iPads, Apple TV and whatever else Steve Jobs and company cook up next.

First up, don't forget to install the new version of iTunes. Then go to the iTunes store, and Ping is featured.

Give Apple the go-ahead to launch Ping.

Apple has a big advantage here. It says it has 160 million accounts ready to join. Just plug in our iTunes account data.

And...we're in! At the onset you can choose to follow some mainstream musicians, or search for friends.

We went with the latter and decided to follow Dan Frommer. This seems like a slightly arduous task now, we hope Apple makes it easier in the future to find friends in bulk. (Maybe Facebook connect? Ahem.)

You have to get permission before you follow...we throw this in there, because Steve Jobs made a big deal about privacy at D8. In our initial pass, it seems Apple has kept to its word on keeping things private when possible.

If you flip through iTunes and see a song you like, you can post it on to your wall, with a message for followers to see.

And here's our wall, or stream, or whatever you want to call it.

This is why we think this can be huge...

We set up Ping on the office computer, but Apple knew which albums we've ever purchased from iTunes.

Today, we can't listen to the albums we've paid for on a different computer, which is total B.S. It's ridiculous that the we can't listen to the Cut Copy record we own because we bought it on a different computer.

BUT! Imagine the potential when/if Apple changes that. Imagine signing into iTunes on your phone, your office computer, Apple TV, etc. and having the music you paid for through iTunes be available? That's what Lala offered. And iTunes better offer that down the road.

Another reason this could be awesome...

If artists actually take to this thing, it could be huge. Imagine having one space where you get news about your favourite bands, free songs and videos from time to time, as well as the ability to buy albums, merchandise, and concert tickets.

Apple would probably want a cut of all those sales, so who knows if bands will play nice or what. But, we think there's potential for Ping to be really cool. As we said, we were sceptical at first, but after using it, we think it's pretty neat.

Is Apple the only one doing this?

No. Of course not! But we like the execution with iTunes and we already use iTunes pretty regularly. Are there Zune Pass users or Xbox Live users out there with a perspective on how this stacks up compared to that stuff? Better, worse, or what? Let us know in the comments.

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