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Ping Could Be Apple's Social Networking Backdoor? 271

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-don't-think-it's-a-secret dept.
rsmiller510 writes "Could Apple's announcement about Ping, a music-based social network be Apple's social networking trojan horse? Facebook might want to be concerned." Of course it is. Update: 09/02 19:26 GMT by T : Jamie points out this post on Daring Fireball, according to which Steve Jobs blames the non-integration on "onerous terms" suggested by Facebook.
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Ping Could Be Apple's Social Networking Backdoor?

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  • Ping (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:40AM (#33450188)

    ping www.apple.com
    PING e3191.c.akamaiedge.net (184.84.45.15): 56 data bytes
    64 bytes from 184.84.45.15: icmp_seq=0 ttl=53 time=31.528 ms

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cab15625 (710956)
      Why was this comment labeled offtopic? "ping" is one of the most basic commands on Unix-like systems. It even works on a Mac. It's the first thing that came to mind when I read the title. It also has uses in online gaming. At the very least I could see some concern for potential trademark confusion (even if you'd have to be some sort of SCO to try an sue Apple over it.) Currently, if you plug "ping" into wikipedia search, it's the Unix command that comes up by default (though that will probably change
      • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:05PM (#33453290)

        Anyway "ping" already has some well established (and very specific) meaning in the computer world. I'm surprised Apple would choose that specific word for their newest gimmick. Especially since it is already loaded with such uncool, geeky history.

        "Ping" has an established meaning among a very small segment of computer users. A group that is quite capable of recognizing social networking use versus networking diagnostic use. Trademarks are assigned in specific product/service classes and social networking and computer system administration are probably sufficiently distant. For example "facebook" had to be trademarked in multiple service classes: entertainment services, technological services, social services, ... FWIW "ping" is trademarked in various computer networking and service contexts and these marks are unrelated to the unix command.

        Among the general population "ping" may be understood to mean getting someone's attention but if asked where the word came from you are probably more likely to get a reference to submarines and sonar than the unix utility. Wiki is merely an example of written by techies for techies, a convenient place to look up technical details. Non-technical use of "ping" does not need a reference page hence the wiki bias. Given the widely accepted definition of getting someone's attention Apple did a pretty good job at naming this feature.

      • Re:Ping (Score:5, Funny)

        by node 3 (115640) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:37PM (#33454886)

        Yes, because words can have only one meaning and no more. They especially can't be used for products or company names.

        Word, Tux, Oracle, Excel, Sun, Bing, Java, Gnome, Yahoo...

        Wow, Apple is sure going to confuse people with this!

  • Eh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:40AM (#33450204) Homepage

    I'm just waiting to hear borked adoption rate numbers...it is integrated into iTunes 10, after all. Internet Explorer & Windows, anyone?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shadis (934448)
      Yeah but you actually have to turn Ping on in ITunes to use it. It is not automatically active, so unless you set it up, you won't be 'counted'
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Haffner (1349071)
        In the same way that Apple NEVER tries to force other software on iTunes users, like, say, Safari or Quicktime? You don't have to install it. But you can't get the next version of iTunes that has *shiny new feature* without installing it. It's optional for this version only, it'll be mandatory next time.
        • I had the same thought.

          Another example: that service for syncing an iPhone with your computer. iTunes won't start without that installed and running.

          • I had the same thought.

            Another example: that service for syncing an iPhone with your computer. iTunes won't start without that installed and running.

            Not quite true. The only way I can get iTunes to communicate with my iPod Touch 3gs is to run it once, get an error message saying "an unknown error has occurred," close it, stop the service, restart iTunes, and click past the warning dialog telling me the useless service isn't running. Every time!

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Sounds like at least someone has learned through the idiotic privacy practices of Facebook.

        • by Pojut (1027544)

          Sorry, meant Google.

          Geez...Facebook has become like Xerox at this point. ::slaps self::

    • Nope, you have to go into the Ping tab and enable it, then setup your account (which is mainly 3 questions; name, music tastes, and privacy settings). iTunes doen't automatically sign you up.

      Apple dug at Google for that yesterday, saying when Apple reports activation numbers for their devices, they don't count simple software updates like "our friends [at Google] do"

    • Ping can claim 180 million user IDs. Sure most of them are not active. One can say the same about facebook as well. At least the apple one's are unique and probably actually represent more than one person (families usually have just one) where as facebook has multiple ids per person sometimes.

      That does not indicate usage but it does indicate that the inertial barrier to entry and required critical mass is already overcome for this to be considered ubiquitously available. Social networks are useless if

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#33450210) Journal
    Because when I look for a portal to Ping [apple.com] it seems they want me to download and install iTunes. Unless they intend to eventually make it accessible through a browser, I could see this being a bit of a problem for more than a few people. Great, you've got my credit card number if I bought something through iTMS but do you really think I'm going to wake up that memory and resource hog on my Windows partition just to get to a social networking site when I can hit Facebook through Linux or (nearly) any mobile device? I might be a small minority but that's not for me.

    Looks to be just more bloat on an already bloated piece of software. The least they could do is modularize iTunes so that if I click a box on install I can make it so that the application is just a way to put music onto an iPod. I am sick and tired of the video and TV stuff forcing me to put Quicktime on my machine!
    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      If you're using Linux, they probably don't care about you. As for being "forced" to install QuickTime, why is Python a dependency for vim-common? Same basic principle, except it appears that the majority of Apple's image rendering is somehow tied to QuickTime libraries. Tried to view a .tiff file the other day and it it opened in QuickTime. Whatever.

      • by lxs (131946)

        Yes, I understand why you have to install the Quicktime framework with iTunes. There is however no compelling reason beyond territorium building to sneak Quicktime player and Safari in there as well.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:54AM (#33450528)

      Looks to be just more bloat on an already bloated piece of software. The least they could do is modularize iTunes so that if I click a box on install I can make it so that the application is just a way to put music onto an iPod. I am sick and tired of the video and TV stuff forcing me to put Quicktime on my machine!

      Yep, leave it to Apple to make the simple ping command all bloated and require QuickTime, etc.

    • by Haffner (1349071) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:58AM (#33450632)
      I think Apple's major mistake is tying EVERYTHING to iTunes. Honestly, iTunes integration tends to be one of the things they do worst. I have a core i7 with 8GB RAM on a win7 machine and iTunes STILL lags, is unresponsive, and even display details get cropped (and can't be fixed). Syncing for iDevices is so bad that I only sync my iPhone (great device other than the iTunes element, imo) every 2-3 months or so, because I hate the sync process so much.
      • Exactly. Apple thinks that they must halfway recreate OS X on Windows to get iTunes to run.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        A few months back my wife and kid were in Scotland on holidays. I was flying out to join them a few days later. While in Scotland my wife dropped me an email saying that she's trying to read email overseas but doesn't seem to have any emails in her webmail interface. So I open up her Outlook 2000 / Win XP pop 3 client and see that her emails are downloading locally to our home computer, even when Outlook isn't running....

        What the...? I think, and I noodle around a bit and discover that even when I clo
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by riegel (980896)
          Mostly agreed, except on the bonjour point. You really ought to learn about what it is and what it does.
      • by MrHanky (141717)

        It's not a mistake, it's what they base their business on. The iPhone's connected to you music files, your music connected to the iTunes app, the iTunes connected to the iTunes store, now hear the word of the Jobs. It's there to make it difficult for you to, you know, switch. It's not a mistake, but they do treat the Windows platform worse than Adobe treats OS X. iTunes is to Windows what Flash is to OS X: nearly ubiquitous, but entirely shit. Perhaps so that iPod addicts will buy Macs?

      • by rwven (663186) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:15PM (#33453512)

        Yeah if they shove any more crap into iTunes, they're going to have to rebrand it as iTunesOS...

      • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:35PM (#33454858)
        Not sure if it's intentionally borked on Windows or not. I'm using a Core 2 Duo 2.4 with 4GB RAM under Snow Leopard (recently upgraded from Tiger) and iTunes loads instantly -- quicker than Firefox, OpenOffice, Thunderbird, etc. It's snappy for my uses (9000+ song library with videos stored on a NAS, lots of rule-based playlists, some of which are based on other playlists, etc).

        I understand Apple concentrating talent on making it run faster in OS X but they're pissing off Windows users with a poor experience. That's not smart.
    • by Tharsman (1364603) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:10AM (#33450878)

      Because when I look for a portal to Ping [apple.com] it seems they want me to download and install iTunes. Unless they intend to eventually make it accessible through a browser, I could see this being a bit of a problem for more than a few people. Great, you've got my credit card number if I bought something through iTMS but do you really think I'm going to wake up that memory and resource hog on my Windows partition just to get to a social networking site when I can hit Facebook through Linux or (nearly) any mobile device? I might be a small minority but that's not for me. Looks to be just more bloat on an already bloated piece of software. The least they could do is modularize iTunes so that if I click a box on install I can make it so that the application is just a way to put music onto an iPod. I am sick and tired of the video and TV stuff forcing me to put Quicktime on my machine!

      You miss the point of this, well the entire article did. Ping is not there primarily to become a Facebook competitor or alternative. It's there to help highlight music sales. It's there to tell you what music your friends like, and what music your favorite artists like. Artists may treat it as a social page only to advertise their products, just as they do now in Facebook.

      As far as Apple's goals are concerned, they don't care you using the tool if you are not going to be buying music. Note it does not only require you to have iTunes installed, it also requires you to have an iTunes Store account (even if it has no credit card attached.) It's all about selling.

      In a way i sort of wish they extended it's functionality for app developers and book authors too.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      I have another question: what's facebook and itunes? Am I the only one left not using those?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BobMcD (601576)

      ...do you really think I'm going to wake up that memory and resource hog on my Windows partition just to get to a social networking site when I can hit Facebook through Linux or (nearly) any mobile device? I might be a small minority but that's not for me.

      I came to say this as well... The author touches on it, but stops short:

      Still, Ping suffers from being locked inside iTunes, although Apple was smart enough to create an access application and put it in the App Store for iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone users.

      In my opinion, Ping suffers from being locked to Apple. It will never have a life outside of making them more money, which means it is genuinely no threat to Facebook. My dad is on Facebook, for example, and will likely never, ever, ever wear a Steve Jobs turtleneck. There are many more like him as well.

      I see no threat here, except to Ping towards irrelevance. And with mp3 and streaming still reigning as kings, Facebook going with

  • by theonlyholle (720311) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:45AM (#33450316) Homepage
    The problem is that all it is is a social shopping network. And of course it's a "social shopping at the iTunes store" network, so it's very, very limited. I personally think that Apple narrowed the scope of their network too much (you can't even post a link to a live video on YouTube of a song you just bought - or rather, you can but it will show up as text only with no way to click or copy&paste it) and most users will be bored by it very quickly and just ignore it. Even if Apple expands it later, a reputation once ruined is hard to improve...
  • by srussia (884021) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:48AM (#33450400)
    It's the bloody Arc de Triomphe!
  • I thought we had learned our lessons in declaring X the Y Killer. Sure, its happened every now and then(see Myspace/Facebook, HDDVD/Bluray), but as everyone here knows (and many lament about), Microsoft is still alive and well despite a resurgence by Apple, iPhones are still selling despite the allegedly-killer swarm of Android devices, websites still get hits despite content being routed more and more into apps, etc.
    • I can't say it would kill Facebook, but I could see it hurting whats left of MySpace. Who goes there for anything other than music these days? Still, I wouldn't be too worried. Apple wants you to buy those songs, not listen to them.

    • by Machtyn (759119)
      Hmm, do I want to stay with the highly restrictive, proprietary software on my mostly open hardware? Or do I go with the highly restrictive, proprietary software AND hardware platform (with an inflated price point, albeit decent software and support)? Tough choice, there, I'll go with the open hardware.
  • by fermion (181285) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:52AM (#33450482) Homepage Journal
    It is likely that most of the social networking stuff with apple will be tied to me.com or iTunes. Both of these are fee based services. Facebook, and myspace, succeed because they are free. They can only be bothered by other free services that figure out a way monetize the user without pissing the user off, something that neither of these services have done.

    So Apple will may have a competing service, and many may be happy because their data is more private, but free is more important than private. Look at home many people let google read their emails rather than paying Apple $100 a year.

    Apple looks like it is going to use it's iTunes database to monetize users in an effort to offer otherwise free services to users. However, this is no different from the other free services, so that should provide no competitive advantage to either company, except for the fact that people expect to act better than facebook, even though most people whine when they have to pay to be treated better. Everyone wants a free lunch.

    • iTunes fee based? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:07PM (#33452052) Homepage

      It is likely that most of the social networking stuff with apple will be tied to me.com or iTunes. Both of these are fee based services

      iTunes is not fee based. Everything, including Ping is free until you download something, like a song or a game. Facebook has something to be worried about. Facebook's revenue stream is eyeballs on ads and if people spend more time in Ping, Facebook is losing.

      Since Ping is free, the rest of your discussion doesn't make any sense. What Apple is doing is basically creating a social network, for free, to encourage sales of music through the iTunes store. Apple's vision for the longest time has been to continue to come up with more tools that encourage you to buy content. We used to think of the iTunes music store as a vehicle to drive hardware sales. It once was, but it's so big now in terms of volume I don't believe that any more. They are trying to get people to buy content so that they make money, pure and simple.

  • Ping probably would have been a better name for Microsoft's search engine site than a social networking site, I'm surprised they didn't think of that.
    • which has been around since the 70s and allows you to check if a remote host is alive. Why apple couldn't have picked a different name god knows.

    • If Microsoft had called something that isn't ping Ping, it would have been blasphemy. A ton of people would be ranting about it.

      Apple gets a pass on that because... I'm not exactly sure why.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      No. A Ping is by nature real-time and direct. A search engine is pretty much the opposite, serving cached data.

      Not that Bing is much better; anyone older than generation Y will associate Bing with Bing Crosby. They might have been slightly closer to the truth if they had named it Bogart...

  • Last.fm anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MareLooke (1003332) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:53AM (#33450500) Homepage

    Why would I want to use this over Last.fm [www.last.fm] which doesn't lock me into an application, is accessible from my webbrowser and has plugins for about every media player around?

    It arguably doesn't provide competition to Facebook aiming at a different audience altogether, but to me, judging from the article, it seems to be swimming in much the same waters as Apple's Ping.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theonlyholle (720311)
      for the same reason that people use Internet Explorer - because it comes bundled and you don't have to deal with downloading extra software, setting up an account etc. Not because it's better, more secure or offers anything new - ease of use seems to be a lot more important than all of that.
  • Unfortunately for Apple, there are enough users like me that are interested in the technology (e.g. iPad) who don't want to be told how to use that technology (e.g. iPad). Facebook's major advantage is that it doesn't require a specific type of hardware (e.g. iPad) with only minimal requirements for software (e.g. free browser) to take advantage of their services--or require a certain level of disposable income to take advantage of. Hell, I know people who don't have a PC who go to the library to login to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't think that is unfortunate for Apple, and I doubt Apple does either. It always happens with new Apple products that Slashdot lists out the people who won't or can't buy them.

      Apple clearly does not care about certain parts of the market.

      Someone above called Ping a social shopping network. That is what it is. It is the logical extension of the product 'reviews' already in itunes, half of which are reviews of previous reviews and people trying to engage in arguments. Move all that crap into a social net

  • by crovira (10242) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:54AM (#33450518) Homepage

    strictly about music discovery and band discovery.

    Steve Jobs is amazingly (obsessively? :-) focused on making up for what the record companies gave up on in the nineties, promotion.

    Now that he's in a great position of power in the music industry, look for him to use "ping" to make an end-run around those same record companies which are run by accountants who treat artists and performers worse than livestock.

    In return he gets to listen to great bands. (Remember, Apple in the seventies used to host music events.)

    • by Crash Culligan (227354) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:22AM (#33451096) Journal

      Disclaimer: I'm using iTunes 10 right now. Make of that what you will.

      There's a lot to hate about Ping, mostly that it's what I like to call a "Potempkin Shopping Village of the Damned." It's there for little more than to allow people to show off their musical tastes and share with their friends. The fact that once you've shared a favorite song with your friends they can listen to a snippet and buy it on the spot <sarcasm class="eyeroll pshaw">is purely coincidental, I'm sure.</sarcasm> It's using the concept of "social networking" in a way that's so utterly cynical it's shocking, and we've got some primo cynics around here.

      So yeah, evil evil evil. Insert as many "fanbois" as you think are necessary after that. (If you stick in two or more "gay"s, though, you're projecting.)

      But then, as crovira points out, there's that bit where Mr. Jobs mentioned "discovery." That's the tilt. It's also where Ping could redeem itself if the users are judicious in its application. Yes, Lady Gaga and U2 and Yo Yo Ma and Katy Perry and Linkin Park and U2 (apparently, Apple really likes U2) are featured on the front page in their own box. Think of that as the sponsored advetising. The really important box is on every user's profile page, in the top right corner. This is where each user gets to recommend ten songs that exemplify their own musical tastes. Click one of those, a pop-up comes up allowing you to sample the tunes on that album, go to that album's page, buy it, review it, etc. In that space, artists like Voltaire, Abney Park, and Lemon Demon can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Roger Waters and Madonna, and could even win.

  • Ron Miller: Could Apple's announcement about Ping [...] be Apple's social networking trojan horse?
    CmdrTaco: Of course it is.

    Ah, the great and definitive insights of CmdrTaco ;)

    CmdrTaco: No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

    By the way, it's not. Ping maybe, but Apple's annoucement about Ping, definitely not.

  • by forand (530402) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:01AM (#33450700) Homepage
    Ping is only available in the iTunes Store proper, so you cannot 'like' a song, artist or album unless you are browsing the store. I don't have loads of time in the day to browse the store to build up likes for all the things I currently own, so whatever they get is only going to be based on newly purchased items. That may be good for their marketing team but it is lame as a social space.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by czmax (939486)

      Not to worry ... I'm sure iTunes will automatically 'like' songs based on what you listen to on your home machine. You needn't lift a finger to be an active member of ping. Oddly they could be creating a fully automated social networking site - no direct user involvement needed.

  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#33450748)

    iTunes might have 160 million users, but that doesn't mean they are ever going to use Ping. According to this logic, Google kicked facebook's ass with Buzz. There's a facebook app on all the iProducts. Every computer that can run iTunes has a browser that can access facebook. I open iTunes to rip a CD or listen to music, not connect with the rest of the world. I use my web browser for that. There's no compelling reason to switch. They'll get a bunch to sign up for Ping to see the "exclusive photos" and never use any other part of it.

    "Jack Johnson had displayed from his latest tour and an exclusive video Lady Gaga made for her fans. This kind of direct access to artists is more powerful than Facebook Fan pages" ....unless the artist just posts the pictures and video to facebook. Comparing it to a facebook page run by a fan is just stupid. Bands are free to post whatever they want on facebook under their own page. Apple isn't offering anything new here, "exclusive content" is the AOL path to success.

    Many people went to facebook because their friends are on facebook. There is not going to be a mass exodus from facebook to Ping, there isn't any reason to switch.

  • Microsoft Lawsuit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by psergiu (67614) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:06AM (#33450786)

    I think Microsoft will sue Apple because of the name.

    As they sued Mike Rowe Software for it's name being too similar to theirs.

  • I wonder.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h2okies (1203490) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:06AM (#33450790)

    c:\>ping www.apple.com

    Pinging www.apple.com [96.16.93.15] with 32 bytes
    Request timed out. No Linux client
    Request timed out. No mobile client
    Request timed out. No universal browser access
    Request timed out. Forced use of 80MB client software

    Ping statistics for 96.16.93.15:
            Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% fail)

    yeah thats what i thought...

    • by mldi (1598123)
      Is there a +1 "creative" mod?
    • There is a very good mobile client, it just runs on iOS devices.

      If you want to complain so much, go use Amazon's store. Apple doesn't want your business and is still #1

    • Request timed out. No mobile client

      If you had been paying attention you would know ping also works on iOS devices too.

      But what's a hundred million mobile devices more or less?

  • Off by default (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fotbr (855184) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:41AM (#33451490) Journal

    At least apple has this part right, for now.

  • Because all of their friends/family use it, since all of my friends/family are already on Facebook, what is the incentive for me to switch to a system that none of my friends/family are using. How many people are on multiple social networks? Most early adopters of social networks switched from myspace to facebook due to a multitude of reasons, but the number one was that in their opinion FB was a better product.

    Now if Apple can convince the majority of users that they have a better product (in that FB was

  • Facebook doesn't need to worry, because Ping is not a general purpose social network. It's not Twitter or FoursSquare or Facebook or Brightkite.

    Instead it's a social network focused solely on media, mostly music. It's at the same time more casual but more focused. Someone who really cares about music a lot might find it more useful than most social networking sites, while at the same time still keeping up on Facebook.

  • I remember EVERYONE said Apple was domed, DOMED to fail (then in 2001 they launched the ibluggghaPOD). I glanced at TFA but the term TROJAN seems out of place....As in it's not a Trojan if they see it coming, it's just a funny car full of clowns.
  • Any social network that doesn't have ALL the users is not going to be a threat to Facebook. If Ping doesn't run on non-Apple mobile devices, Linux machines, or older hardware then I don't see the threat.

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