Ping Isn't a Social Network - and that's just fine

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s an awful lot of nonsense being talked about Ping, the new social tool in iTunes.

Please note: “social tool in iTunes” not “social network”.

That’s the root of the confusion and dismay, I think. People are looking at Ping and expecting something much like Facebook – a self-contained network that you can run your social life from. I’ve long believed that the market for social networks is limited – there’s only so many people will use – but that the potential for overlaying social tools on existing services is huge. Ping, I think, is an example of that. It is not a social network in the sense that Facebook or Twitter is. Apple would be moronic to try to launch against them. And Apple is rarely moronic.

Instead, Ping is just a simple social graph laid over the iTunes Store (more so than iTunes itself), creating a way for you to find out what your mates are buying – and maybe buy it yourself. In fact, the description of Ping within iTunes itself makes this abundently clear:

![Ping Description in iTunes]( Description.png "Ping Description.png")

If you want more evidence of that this is mostly about recommendation and purchase, just look at where Ping lives:

![Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 12.17.27.png]( shot 2010-09-02 at 12.17.27.png "Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 12.17.27.png")

It’s right in the iTunes Store. (Adam’s Brain is my iPhone, by the way. My wife has decided that it’s my brain, because I don’t seem to be able to think without it…)

So, let’s say that again: Ping is not a social network. It’s a social tool that allows you to find new music based on recommendations from friends. And what’s the point of that? Sales and Folksonomy.

I’m staying in Ping. You can add me as a friend, if you like – but I warn you that my taste in music is terrible…

appleitunessocial graphsocial networkssocial tools

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.