Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple’s Ping tops 1M users in two days, but it’s no Google Buzz

Apple’s Ping tops 1M users in two days, but it’s no Google Buzz

Apple announced just a few hours ago that it’s new music-centered social network Ping has surpassed 1 million users in a mere two days.

While the announcement may seem impressive, if you consider that iTunes has over 160 million accounts tied to credit cards (and certainly a lot more if you include accounts without cards), I’m honestly surprised Apple didn’t hit the 1 million line in 24 hours.

According to Apple, one-third of people who downloaded iTunes 10 have signed up for Ping. If we’re counting 1 million users out of 3 million, Ping definitely appears to be more of a success. But it remains to be seen if that momentum will carry through as more users upgrade.

As a somewhat related comparison, Google’s Buzz social network for Gmail — which had around 170 million users at the time of Buzz’s release — saw tens of millions of users in two days. Before you accuse me of fanboyism, let me note the following: Yes, it was certainly easier for users to sign up for Buzz since it didn’t require downloading and installing new software, as well as going through a registration process. Buzz is also admittedly in no way a success for Google.

But at the same time, Buzz and Ping shared the same problem many budding social networks do — nobody knew what to do with them when they launched. Buzz was clearly a stab at Twitter-meets-Friendfeed conversations in Gmail, but aside from importing their current social networks into the service, I didn’t see many conversations actually taking place on the service. It was one of many services I’ve signed up for, but was never motivated to actually do something with it.

Ping, meanwhile, suffers the same “what now” problem. It’s easy enough to sign up for it, but then you’re faced with searching for your friends, and finding artists that you like on the service. Once you’re following people, you’re mainly seeing artists recommend their albums — something which I don’t think fans really need help with. Artists can also post photos and post cute messages, but at this point that’s something they can do better on MySpace or Facebook.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many users are signing up for Ping, but remain clueless with what to do with it. Apple needs to get its Facebook friend importing up and running again, and clearly define what people can do with Ping, before it can become a thriving social network.

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