Update: iTunes is getting more social, but not with Ping. Today Apple announced that Ping will be shut down on September 30th. iTunes 11 will instead display your Facebook friends who Liked each entry, offer Facebook and Twitter sharing for purchases, plus let musicians share photos on their artist pages. The changes come amongst a larger overhaul to the iTunes store and player design.
Essentially, Apple has baked the most critical elements of Ping right into iTunes 11 that will roll out in late October, namely music discovery and photos of your favorite artists. Meanwhile, Apple has scrapped redundant features like Twitter and Facebook-esque artist following, and niche parts like concert listings currently in Ping .
Ping shutting down on September 30th and no longer accepting new members as of today was first spotted by 9To5Mac. This meshes with a report from AllThingsD from June indicating sources close to Apple that said Ping would be removed when iTunes 11 launched.
So how will iTunes get social without Ping? Along with the new-found ability to share to Facebook from Siri, Apple’s other big Facebook integration previewed today was Like buttons and friends who’ve Liked shown on every single thing in iTunes. This gives Apple a lightweight way to take advantage of social recommendation — a powerful driver of purchases. When you see the names of friends who’ve bought something, you’re a lot more likely to buy too.
Once you’ve purchased or downloaded something, you can share a link to that content to Facebook or Twitter.
In the preview of the integration, Apple showed that mobile app store entries will list the number of friends and a Facebook icon at the top. If users check out the Reviews tab, they’ll see the names of those friends and a Like button. This provides a much more simple and accessible alternative to finding or inviting friends to Ping and following them in order to see what they’re consuming.
Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter will gain content from those Like and share buttons, as they’ll make their feeds a better a way to discover cool music, video, and apps your friends are downloading. And those stories will generate referral clicks and installs from the friends of the original downloader. Hopefully the full-sized version of iTunes / App Store shows the faces of Facebook friends too, which would be much more eye-catching and persuasive.
The other chunk of Ping grafted right into iTunes is photo sharing from artists. Previously you’d have to follow your favorite artists on Ping and check your activity feed for their updates.
Now Apple says that “We’ve given the artist the ability to share photos with you”, demonstrating how Coldplay was sharing photos right from their iTunes store page. So rather than just a big cover image, iTunes artists pages now offers a social presence in addition to a commerce. The next step will be to get artists to share exclusive content on their iTunes Pages, attracting to fans to where Apple can make money.
Nobody was using Ping anyway, right? So deleting it’s presence from the iTunes sidebar will remove the sad reminder of one of Apple’s rare flops.