Do you Ping?

The word ‘ping’ infuriates me. Used in any other context than submarine range-sourcing or describing the sound of a club hitting a golf ball, ping sounds out of place, forced and just a little too cute. Apple’s Ping has far greater issues than just its name however, as their foray into social media doesn’t sound like anything, feels like an afterthought and isn’t even that fun to use.

Here are five thoughts on Ping from a guy who really hates it.

1. Who adds friends, one at a time, by email anymore?
If we are supposed to add friends by email, why can’t I connect to my address book, upload my address book, connect to Gmail or MobileMe? If Ping is supposed to be at the center of our music-sharing experience, it had better be able to communicate with common forms of storing email addresses.

2. Who cares what celebrities listen to?
If iTunes Genius can scan our music to make playlists, why can’t Ping do the same? I don’t have any 50 Cent songs, yet the first person Ping recommended I follow was…50 Cent. Huh? Does he listen to similar music to me? Let me check…nope. This makes no sense.

3. The name Ping sounds ridiculous.
Widely-used corporate-speak terms include “ping me” and “I’ll ping you.” Both of those denote an attempt to usually find the location of and speak to someone else. Ping used to determine someone’s musical preferences makes no sense. “Oh, you like Matchbox 20? Let’s have Ping ping us together.” Huh? The terms Twittered and Facebooked, while also ridiculous, sound normal by comparison.

4. Why can’t I share all my music?
Yes, I know Ping exists in order to sell more songs from iTunes, but I have plenty of legally-purchased tracks, complete with proper tags, that I bought elsewhere than iTunes that I can’t share with others, even though these same tracks are available for purchase within iTunes. It’s like making Pages incompatible with Microsoft Office. Oh, wait…

5. We want to connect with people, not brands or even bands.
Social media’s true power lies in its ability to connect everyone to everyone else, not the ability to listen to whatever Kanye West is spewing at any given moment. Ping’s featured list makes every mistake that Twitter’s does, namely its reliance on sanitized brands, while giving us none of Twitter’s strengths, such as searching or hashtags.

While I do like that Steve Jobs and company ended their involvement with Facebook, a company that takes owning your life almost literally, you can’t help but think Ping should and could have been far better. Maybe Apple needs to realize it’s really good at making products that connect people, and really poor at actually connecting them.