Apple has decided to leap into the crowded and turbulent social media field by offering a niche product where it already dominates, according to USA Today. By trying to rescue the Apple TV box, overhauling their iPod line, and introducing social media to iTunes 10, Apple hopes to crowd out Google in several arenas. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed in a streaming media presentation Wednesday, Apple is hoping to further hook iTunes 10 users and recruit new music junkies through a social networking feature called Ping. Ping will enable users to start to follow their friends’ music and artists they’re into, encouraging wider musical-interest sharing.
None of these updates were shockingly groundbreaking, but they do suggest Apple intends to stay relevant and just innovative enough to keep making a buck.
As Jobs demonstrated, according to the Washington Post, Ping allows users to follow artists to find out where they’re playing and when new releases are due. Users can also follow friends to find out which concerts they’re going to (with their permission, of course, due to privacy settings) and which artists their friends favor.
It’s a good idea, capitalizing on what Apple already does well. Music naturally lends itself to sharing of a sort, whether it’s a comparison of favorite lineups for a band or favorite all-time concerts. Though Ping has been developed not to encourage pirating for obvious reasons, people used to copy cassette tapes before turning to burning CDs and, most recently, file-swapping. On Facebook, it’s not at all unusual to see that friends have posted a favorite YouTube video of a song, and almost any popular song can be found on YouTube.
What will this do for Apple? If executed well, it is possible Ping will broaden their already sizable base of users and could give a boost to artists and labels as well. It’s feasible new talent could see better sales through viral recommendations. Or, it could be a bust. The verdict is still out, but I’d suggest it looks favorable thus far.
What of the other innovations? A less-expensive Apple TV set-box is a good idea, of course, and the new iPod Touch is more and more like an iPhone (why not just call it that? Still too different, I suppose). But it is slender and offers a better battery, so it does have that going for it.
Apple’s latest announcements won’t change the world, but no one really expects that these days. So long as we don’t relive the iPhone 4 fiasco of earlier this year, things should go well enough for the company.
Rob Pegoraro, “Apple’s jumps into the social network game with ‘Ping'” Washington Post
Jefferson Graham, “Apple unveils new line of iPods, revamped Apple TV” USA Today