iTunes 10 is out with “Ping”. The one good thing I can immediately say about Ping is that it’s not “one more useless account” (sadly, uselessaccount.com seems to be defunct). But that’s only because it hangs off of your AppleID (if you have one). Why is Apple entering the social media game? Pumping up their stock price would seem to be a dumb reason. Then again, Apple also got into the search portal game at one point (and I believe that was after Jobs’s second coming). Bear in mind that this was when search portals all sucked in different ways. Seriously — people would actually recommend altavista to their friends back then…
The usual reason Apple does things is that it thinks it can do them better than anyone else. Certainly, the way “following” works in Ping is intelligent, and the basic idea (form a circle of friends and share recommendations, vs. randomly “friend” people for no good reason) seems sound. In the end, MySpace and Facebook both started out as being primarily about music and became privacy invading quagmires. We’ll see. Right now I can find two Paul Simons and two Bjorks, but not the Paul Simon and the Bjork I’m interested in. (And seriously, they couldn’t get Bjork to sign on? Maybe she’s just too 1998.)
Ars Technica rightly pointed out that what we don’t need from iTunes is new features. What we need is better reliability and performance. Oddly enough, while Jobs made no mention of under-the-hood improvements, iTunes seems significantly more spritely.
I think I’m even willing to forgive this: