Ping is a mistake for Apple

1 09 2010

Today, Apple announced that they are opening their own music-centric social network called Ping. This might be a good idea if it were an independent company, but not Apple.

Ping screenshot

Screenshot from September 1 Apple music event

The big problem lies in Apple allowing users to comment on artists, albums, et cetera. As someone who spends a fair amount of time on YouTube, Digg, and other places  that allow user comments. The problem with having an open forum where anyone can say anything is that anyone can say anything.

On YouTube, in particular, discussion is not nearly as rich as one would like and is laden with swearing, bad grammar and spelling, trolling, and off-topic discussion. Apple, which is so concerned with its outward public perception, may be biting more than it can chew by hosting user-generated content, especially semi-anonymous comments that are only tethered to their respective authors by an iTunes Store account.

Apple has had, one more than one occasion, deleted threads and posts in their discussion forums. It has, albeit with limited success, deleted applications from the App Store based on its content. In one case, Apple was worried about bad press. In the other, Apple was worried about about general public perception of its social and cultural values.

Unless Apple wants to get into the business of moderating what could very well turn into a never-ending, ever-increasing deluge of comments, this is going to be a mistake for a company that obsesses over its public image as much as Apple. I certainly believe that Ping has a chance to be a very popular platform for the discussion of relatively unknown, indie music, where trolls and the like are not likely to turn up. Discussion on more popular music will be completely useless due to the inevitable torrent of comments, most of which will undoubtedly be asinine and pointless.

I could be wrong, but I do not think that Ping will turn out the Apple is pitching it. Then again, what has?

Update: Told ya.

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