Yesterday’s WWDC announcements were at times fascinating (airplay sync’d gaming & Siri updates) and wildly boring (Reminders). Who would have guessed that social media had a shot at stealing the show? There were many important social media-related bits presented during the show that, honestly, seemed a little uninteresting to the people who were presenting them (listen for the “bright idea” comment during the Mountain Lion segment). To the general public, however, they will have a profound effect on their near term social experiences. Below are my personal opinions. I have no official or inside knowledge at Apple or Facebook.
1. The Ping Bang
I’ve written about how Apple’s avoidance of Ping during earnings and WWDC events was a bad sign. Now Facebook integration is coming to the iOS and it’s the dagger in Ping’s heart. If Apple’s claims of “deep integration” are true, I hope the music app on my iPhone becomes aware of the artists I’ve already Liked on Facebook. Will Apple keep their own tally of the Likes just in case Apple wants to learn more about it’s customers? Who knows. From what I recall, access to user data was the big sticking point between Apple and Facebook in the past.
All this Ping news reminded me of this “Top Secret” movie clip:
2. The Official Approval of Facebook and Disapproval of Google+
Steve Jobs’s war cry against Google is still echoing in the halls of Apple. Notice how Google+ wasn’t included in the iOS 6 update? Unless hell freezes over again AND Google+ can demonstrate engagement and audience numbers equivalent to Facebook, it will not be integrated into the iOS system anytime soon. The concerted effort to remove all traces of Google tech (Google Maps & G+ snub) is well underway. What’s left to pull? Gmail/Calendar support? I doubt that would happen any time soon.
3. iAd and Facebook
Facebook needs mobile ad dollars. I’m sure they are close to a solution, but it’s potentially one of the most sensitive updates they will ever have to launch. If people don’t respond well to their method of delivering mobile ads, I think Apple is going to be in a prime position to come to the rescue. Apple is not dependent on advertising revenue, but would love to grow it while learning more about their customer’s social preferences. If a revenue sharing model could be reached, I could see iAds running in the Facebook app. Who knows what level of data could be tracked by Apple to better target their iAd offering.
4. How Passbook and Ping Passed Like Ships in the Night
Concert tickets are a wonderful memento, and based on what I’ve seen on Facebook, get posted there regularly. I can’t help but wonder why concert tickets weren’t included in Passbook. Possibly because they’re not barcodes, but so what? Let’s say Ping wasn’t really slated to be killed. I think Passbook could be connected to Ping and iTunes in a way that would drive conversation and lure people back. Especially if a financial incentive was offered, like free music downloads or content for those who either attended the show or participated in the conversation on Ping.
Why Ping Failed
This wasn’t part of the show but let’s talk about it anyway.
Assuming the All Things D report of Ping’s near-term demise isn’t true, here are my top 5 reasons why I think Ping needs to get pulled back into Apple for rethinking:
1. No ability to upload images or videos. Photos and videos from concerts are a compelling source of content for social networks, but Ping didn’t allow it. All you could do is write a text note.
2. Poor store integration. If you look at the Ping front page, it’s all about what music your friends have purchased. And that’s it. A long receipt of their purchases in chronological order—not very compelling. If you click into an album that a friend has purchased, you see the typical album page in iTunes and your friend’s content is buried in the left column of the page.
3. Apple doesn’t understand how music fits into the larger content consumption by their customers. People don’t obsessively discuss music on Facebook. They also don’t want to do it in the confines of a store like iTunes. Music to many people on Facebook is like an FYI. It’s not the majority of compelling conversations or interactions.
4. Lack of persistence to bring me into the fold. The setup process and pressure to add friends or go find artists is lacking. People need prodding to make a social network work for them. Ping didn’t do that. Once you passed the basic setup process, you were left with your friend’s shopping receipt.
5. Lack of response from friends. The typical display of the receipt shows no reaction or rating of the album or song your friend purchased. That lack of return experience really makes the place feel dead. I would love to know what my friend thought of the record or song. I would also love to know if they included it in a playlist. I think Spotify does a great job of this.