08 September 2010
PING: Why Does iTunes Do This?
iTunes for me has been a constant companion over the last four years. I would come home, put it on my lap, sit with it for several hours while it found me 'suggestions for similar music', and gently play 30 second samples of every song it wanted me to hear. When the Genius application came along, I would practically slit my wrists with blank CD's in excitement for what six song suggestions were going to put up after I hit the purchase button. I've probably spent $50 a month on that site just scooping up everything I think I'll potentially love.
To get up to date with the current transitional phase of iTunes, it has to be noted that every few months I start to dread the little pop-up box telling me a new version of iTunes must be downloaded. Recently I tried to rebel and would completely disregard these messages when they were sent to me but eventually my iPod stopped working and it became necessary for me to download the unnecessary new version. Why do I hate it you might ask? Because I get so used to the layout of the old versions and then there are suddenly more little sidebars to click, my computer becomes slower, and I feel like all this nonsense begins to take up too much space at a certain point.
iTunes 10 has probably been the worst of these transitions for me. In addition to the format completely changing (ELIMINATING the section for date last played!), the "social network" Ping has been added to bring iTunes in the 21st century I suppose? Honestly, I don't get it at all. At first I was really intrigued by the idea of connecting with people who liked similar music. I pictured it being a social version of the Genius bar or a more direct version of like.com. It advertised itself as a place where you could learn about your favorite artist's current listening habits and learn about stranger's musical taste (my favorite thing in the world).
The day I finally agreed to sit for 45 minutes and have this downloaded on my already archaic computer, I eagerly set up my Ping account. I thought the questions would include my top five favorite artists or have a chart of my most listened to songs for the week but instead it was a randomized display of a few album covers to songs I rarely listen to. "Cousins" by Vampire Weekend? I don't know where they're getting this from.
After setting up my own profile to the best of my ability, I set out to find other profiles to link to or whatever. I was only given around 20 options of people I might be interested in and really I wasn't interested at all. When I finally came across the real profile of one of my favorite musician's, it was definitely underwhelming. Basically the profile contained the amount of people following him and the songs he had recently "liked". That was about it. No list of what he recently purchased or listened to or anything of value whatsoever.
I've read other reviews of Ping that refer to it as a stepping stone to Apple's overall master plan of masquerading a social networking site into basically a glorified store but I don't even understand the purpose at all right now. I want to buy music and nothing on Ping made me crave any particular songs. The format is unappealing and I might be an idiot but I found it a little confusing, more so because I didn't understand the reasoning behind it. From what I've read, I think Facebook was originally supposed to be incorporated into the layout which would certainly explain it a little - if people are supposed to invite their friends and find followers from that, it would make a little more sense.
Nevertheless, I'm still disappointed.