With the release of Itunes 10, Apple has taken the necessary, and seemingly innovative, approach of incorporating social media into the infrastructure of the Itunes experience. Alongside the fact that Itunes has revived AppleTV and now offers the purchase of television shows less than 24 hours after they have been aired, you can immerse yourself in Ping, a microblogging venture where you can comment on songs, follow artists, create your own profile, and connect with music lovers all in live stream.
Though this enhancement may color the Apple users’ experience, it does little to deepen the quality of their software. Ping behaves like Twitter but has the underlying commercialism of Myspace. According to Richard McManus, a blogger for the technology source ReadWriteWeb, “the fact that you need to be inside the Itunes Store…seems a rather cynical move to encourage people to buy more music.”
Holdcom has followed in Apple’s footsteps and created the Online Audio Production Store – a vehicle where users can submit voice prompts, listen to a variety of samples from voice talents, and then view a quote. The model that Apple pioneered of the “online store” has been highly successful, as long as the location remained genuine in its purpose and image. By adding a faux social media dimension to the Itunes Store, Apple has dressed their business under the banner of “social media,” a decision that not only detracts from the music-listening experience but offsets the productive capabilities of a web socialite: better connectivity, communication, and a direct link from business to business, or business to consumer.
How could Apple have used social media for its benefit? By taking off the training wheels. As soon as you set up your profile, you are "pre-loaded with leading pop, rock, and other music acts." The success behind Twitter was that restrictions were lifted: celebrities were allowed to contribute as much, or as little, as they wanted, leading to innovation and self-motivated, quality posts. The beauty of Holdcom's Online Audio Production Store is that the final product is entirely customizable - left to the consumer, who will then take initative to contact the business, since they are now invested in their product. How can an Itunes user be invested in "liking" or commenting on music when they are stuck within Apple's desired framework?
As Spyro Kourtis, CEO of Hacker Group, said in his presentation at the Digital Media: Lead Generation virtual conference yesterday [which I attended and will blog on later today], the goal of social media is not to "change how people think, [but] change how people behave." Ping does not seem to hold the potential to do either.