Sorry Apple, Twitter won't save Ping

Apple has opened its music-based social network to the web (sort of) with Twitter integration...but is it enough?

Apple's Ping is no longer afraid of the World Wide Web.

The iTunes-only music-centric social network, so far a flop, has befriended Twitter. From within iTunes, you can now sync a Twitter account, which allows you to syndicate reviews, likes, and posts from Ping. On Twitter's Website, these posts bring up a side bar with song samples, album listings and links back to iTunes.

Unfortunately, the key phrase here is "from within iTunes." Ping is still shackled to Apple's clunky desktop software, and so it's no more desirable than it was before, because you still can't interact with it from a browser. It is slightly more visible (but not by much; I don't think any of my Twitter pals use Ping regularly).

And, of course, it doesn't help that Apple excludes all mobile phones -- except the iPhone -- from accessing Ping. Even the iPad doesn't have a native app.

For these reasons, I doubt that the failed Facebook partnership would have helped Ping either. Even if people from other social networks can see what's happening on Ping, the actual activity is still shut off from the rest of the Web.

Apple's best hope to save Ping from obscurity is a Web-based iTunes overhaul, which is badly needed anyway. If Apple stops directing people to desktop software and starts linking to its own Web pages, Ping will feel more like a genuine social network, and the hooking into Twitter will actually seem like a savvy move. For now, though, Twitter is just another dead end.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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