The Potential of Ping
Yesterday Apple introduced Ping in iTunes 10. As Jobs described it, Ping is “a social network for music. It’s like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes. It’s all about music.” As Jobs explained, “Ping is for social music discovery. You can follow people and you can be followed. Most artists will hold their hand up and say ‘you can follow me’ — you can hold your hand up and say that as well, or you can say ‘people can follow me but I have to approve who follows me.’ Then you can set up a circle of friends.”
Discovery takes place at the intersection of information. Some music discovery is already happening within iTunes but with the introduction of Ping, Apple has furthered the creation and velocity of information and thereby increased the probability that information will intersect.
The introduction of Ping also increases discovery closer to the point of purchase.
Important to Ping, it is available on the iPhone and iPod touch. I imagine demand for music is more inelastic on-the-go than it is within a fixed location like the home. Research has shown that for certain age cohorts, 45 percent of music is consumed on mobile devices. Discovery happens with friends making mobile device integration meaningful. Have you ever watched teens sit around and share music with others from their mobile devices?
I also think concert integration has potential. Eventually one can imagine users uploading video clips from concerts – furthering information dispersion.
I disagree with assessments that Apple is gunning to create their own Facebook with Ping. The focus of Ping will remain narrowly around music. But I do believe the scope of Ping will increase. Moving into other content like movies and television programs is a natural extension.