Ping Pursues Success as a Specialized Social Network

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-09-06 Print this article Print


5. Specialized services rarely do well 

It's hard to pinpoint a single, specialized social network that has performed all that well. Some may point to Foursquare and its location-based social networking as a prime example, but that service only has a few million users. And with Facebook Places now available, it's likely being hit quite hard. Since specialized social networks don't do all that well, it's unlikely that Ping will be any different. 

6. Growing pains 

Like any social network, Ping will go through growing pains as more people start using the service. Expect privacy concerns and bugs to cause some discontent among users. How Apple responds to those complaints will determine Ping's success or failure. 

7. Success is a relative term 

Unfortunately for Apple, success in the social networking space can be difficult to attain. The company might eventually say that 50 million users have joined Ping, making it a success, but in the end, it will be compared to Facebook's 500 million active users. Success in the social market nowadays requires users to best Facebook. And as much as Apple will want to claim victory, it just isn't attainable. 

8. Artists will need to buy into it 

A key component in the success of Ping is its ability to attract musical artists. Steve Jobs showed off the service as a way for artists and users to communicate and find out about upcoming events. But so far, artists have been slow to adopt the service. If that continues, Ping will have little chance of succeeding. After all, if users can talk with their favorite artists on Twitter, but not on Ping, what good is it? 

9. The future isn't in iTunes as users know it 

When Apple acquired Lala, many hoped that the company would transform iTunes into a streaming service. But so far, that hasn't happened. However, there is a chance that Lala will eventually play a key role in future iterations of iTunes. And when that happens, the service as it is known today will be totally different. For Ping, that means transformations going forward. And as Facebook redesigns have shown, users don't like change. Facebook can overcome it, but Ping might not. 

10. It will get lost in the mobile noise 

Apple said that Ping will be available to users on their iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. For road warriors that find value in the service, that will be a good thing. But for those folks that have a hard enough time keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare on their smartphones, adding Ping to the mix could be one too many. It's something that Apple should be thinking about. And it could stunt Ping's growth. 


Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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