Will Twitter really be the wind beneath Ping's wings?
Haven't heard much about Ping lately? Ping, remember? That's OK. The buzz volume has been pretty low on Apple's iTunes-based social network for music since it was launched a couple of months ago.
By hooking up with Twitter, Apple looks to be trying to jump-start Ping by allowing users to broadcast their Ping-based music-browsing activities over Twitter. If you connect the two services, your musical predilections will become very public. When you rave about Brokencyde's new album, everyone on Twitter will hear about it; when you "Like" Cher, everyone on Twitter will hear about it, and when you post a note on Ping saying, "Why don't I have any friends on Ping?" everyone on Twitter will hear about it.
Apple is doubtless hoping Twitter will help with Ping's problem making friends. Since Ping debuted, it's been thanklessly tedious to invite friends to the service: users have to manually enter friends' e-mail addresses -- one by one -- or search for individual names.
Most users proably aren't inclined to sit for hours inviting dozens of people to a new and unproven online product like Ping. Thus it would greatly help Apple to let users just copy all their friends onto Ping from an established friend repository like, say, Facebook. Trouble is, Facebook reportedly wouldn't let Apple tap into its network to seed Ping with lots of ready-made friendships.
That's where Twitter comes in. By allowing Ping users to sniff through their Twitter friends to see who else is on Ping, Apple could theoretically be opening up a new pipeline of fresh users.
But there's a roadblock. To find your Twitter friends through Ping, your Twitter friends have to already be on Ping. In other words, once you sign onto Ping's Twitter service, you will only see a list of other Twitter-via-Ping users who have also signed onto Ping's Twitter service. You will not see a list of everyone you follow on Twitter.
(In my case, in the three hours since Ping-via-Twitter launched, only four of the 367 people I follow on Twitter have signed up for the new coupling.)
In that sense, Twitter has offered Apple a trickle of fresh friend juice, rather than a flood.
-- David Sarno (@dsarno)