Ping’s big flaw

Apple introduced a new social network yesterday — Ping. Ping basically allows you to share your iTunes music, video and other interests with you friends. On paper, it is a great idea as it integrates an existing social network into an existing payment and shopping network. This provides a route to monetisation that has eluded many others. Do this for apps and books as well and this might be significant. As I have written before, sharing your electronic tastes is a gap waiting to be filled.

So I downloaded iTunes 10 and fired up Ping this morning and immediately realised a big problem: our iTunes account is a family account. Not only are the tastes of the two adults in the house mixed but we have the children polluting our preferences as well. If I let lose this on my friends, they will think I have a troublesome fondness for Hannah Montana. If my kids let this lose on their friends, I suspect they will suffer the social damage of people who still like ELO. Not to mention that your past interests are weighted the same as your current ones. This same issue has plagued Genius recommendations.

This is a longstanding issue that Apple needs to deal with. The simple solution would be to allow family accounts to break down into individually assigned ones more easily. I suspect there is a mess of copyright and hurt in the way of that but without it this social network I think is on a path to failure. For now, can I interest you in some Mika, Glee or OK Go? We all seem to like that in the Gans household.

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