updated 11:54 pm EDT, Mon October 1, 2012
Ping replaced in iTunes with Twitter, Facebook integration
Apple used the end of its fiscal year yesterday to kill off two services; one it had created itself, the other it bought from outside the company. As previously announced, music social service Ping has been completely removed from iTunes through a silent update. The social service launched in 2010 but a failed attempt to integrate Facebook made users avoid it, and it languished despite the addition of Twitter integration later on. Apple purchased app search service and iOS app Chomp in February to incorporate its discovery technology into its redesigned App Store in iOS 6.
Originally, Chomp was set up to help both iOS and Android users find new apps based on vague phrases rather than title-specific or category-specific searches. Users could type in phrases like "dungeon RPG" and get suggestions based on setting and type of play rather than strictly games that used "dungeon" in the title or were non-dungeon RPGs. The search algorithm also helped users avoid low-rated games that happened to match their search terms, and made the service available for free through a website or apps available on both Apple's App Store or Google Play.
In addition to zeroing in on what users are actually looking for, the service also provided the usual summaries, ratings and price information along with links to buy the app directly through the appropriate store. Apple bought the company and most of its employees in February of this year for an alleged $50 million; by April, all Android ties to the service had been closed and the Android app discontinued. The website and iOS app continued to function until September 30.
When first announced, Ping gained millions of users almost immediately. Apple had promised that the service would let users and artists connect to rate favorites and make announcements, complete with "followers" who would receive updates whenever one's status was updated -- either manually "liking" a song or artist, or automatically when users listened to or purchases music on iTunes. It was originally -- and was for a very brief period -- linked to Facebook, which would automatically share the "likes" and other activity.
Facebook cut Ping off after complaining that Apple had launched the service before negotiations were complete, and that it feared the flood of new traffic would degrade its own service. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs revealed that negotiations with Facebook had been going on for months and that terms were "onerous" when the link-up collapsed. Subsequently, artists and user interaction carried on at a much reduced volume, with users preferring to stick with established services such as Facebook and even MySpace for music-oriented discussion and interaction.
Shortly after Ping's second anniversary, Apple announced that it would no longer accept new members and that the service would end on September 30. CEO Tim Cook had foretold of Ping's death in several interviews, saying "I think the customer voted" on it and that "Apple doesn't need its own social network." Ironically, Cook was able to achieve what Jobs had not -- getting Facebook to agree to iTunes integration, alongside the existing Twitter integration.
Full Facebook integration will come with iTunes 11, which is expected to be released sometime this year, though users can already share iTunes links on Facebook. Twitter, which had earlier committed to full integration in iOS 5 and Mountain Lion, reported a significant spike in new users when it was available as a signup in iOS 5. Facebook, which is also now part of Mountain Lion and iOS 6, has not commented on any new flood of users, but the integration has been well-received by existing users.
Playlists in Ping were automatically converted into iMixes, but lists of followers or those followed (artists and individuals) were lost in the shutdown.