Apple’s new social media music service Ping (iTunes® 10 with Ping) was launched this Wednesday, and it got one million users in less than 48 hours, after an effortless media push from Apple, consisting of a press release, a bulk newsletter and a few “exclusive” statements to selected media.
But the “record number” is not really a record if we consider that iTunes already has over 160 million users in 23 countries. A social networking feature to enhance user experience on iTunes was a logical step. Ping is entirely dependent on iTunes, a strategical move seen as a flaw by many tech writers. Everything Apple does is sales oriented – this company is not famous for freebies. The press release alone is all the proof you need to understand this strategy. It’s not a communique about Ping alone, it is a communique about iTunes 10 with Ping. And, while the Ping social media music service is free, the intent of the release is clear:
With iTunes 10, you can rent your favorite HD TV shows commercial free from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America and watch them at home or on the go for just 99 cents an episode.
Even Ping’s description has a subliminal sales pitch (can you isolate it?):
Ping lets you follow your favorite artists to see what they’re up to, check out photos and videos they’ve posted, see their tour dates and read comments about other artists and albums they’re listening to.
Whatever move Apple make has to be seen from a financial perspective and the critics have to understand that Apple know exactly when to strike to get more ROI. For example, right now Ping’s features are somewhat limited, as described by Jay Yarow:
What the biggest problem with Ping? It is fundamentally flawed because it doesn’t interact with your iTunes music collection. It only plays nice with the limited selection of music obtained through Apple’s store.
But, as the BusinessInsider author notes, Apple has to capitalize on Ping’s potential by improving the service, and adding the ability to listen to the user’s music for example. No doubt, in time, Apple will do the necessary upgrades. It’s not “hip” to launch a perfect service these days, you see. User feedback means press, and press is something Apple know how to manipulate.
They refined the art of getting free PR beyond Google.