Social Design Lessons From Apple's Ping

by September 3, 2010

Apple's first foray into social applications launched yesterday in the form of Ping: a social network for music built into iTunes. As I was reading people's reactions to and expectations of the service, a number of social application design lessons came to mind.

Self Expression: people want to control how they are seen by others.

  • "Infuriated that Ping requires you to use your billing name as your nickname."
  • "Apple has to individually approve users photos on Ping? I knew they were control freaks but this one takes the cake"
  • "Why does this Ping thing only let me choose 3 genres of music I like. I am eclectic, like way more than 3 types of music."
  • "-100 for relying solely on US iTunes purchases - I mostly have Japanese music!"

Instant Personalization & Instant On: people expect digital services to make use of the information they've already provided or have access to.

  • "Signed up for Ping: need a way to find friends, it doesn't know my iTunes songs/ratings"
  • "I was liking Ping until it recommended I follow Katy Perry and Linkin Park. I can't stand either! "
  • "Whaaaa? Artists have to join Ping before I'm able to "like" them"
  • "I was expecting to see a lot of artist waiting to be friended. But there‚Äôs only 14 or so."

Sharing & Broadcast: people want to share with and be seen by others. Especially when it makes them look good.

  • "Why should I create a Ping profile when it's sequestered in an app, offline, and impossible to link to or share via email?"
  • "Ping's integration with iTunes is pretty shallow - I can't like music in my own library."

Note: I'm not sure if the comments about are reflective of the way Ping currently works but they do reflect people's perceptions of the service!

Social Engagement Checklist: If you're interested in ways to align your social application with people's needs, check out the social engagement checklist I put together a while back. These questions attempt to answer the most vexing social design question: "why would people participate in a new service/product?"