In spite of Apple's numerous attempts to inject new features and 3rd party online integrations in it, Ping is struggling to take off. Not only does the service seem useless and too tied to iTunes to many, several publications are also calling it one of the biggest flops of 2010.
You can now add NPR to the list of Ping non-fans, as they have named Apple's social network for music one of the "worst ideas of 2010". Ouch.
The most popular services — the Facebooks, Twitters and MySpaces of the world — allow users to share links, thoughts, ideas, photos and music to connect with each other. Ping, run through iTunes, was supposed to be an evolution in musical connection. But iTunes, being a self-contained fortress requiring endless software upgrades and with more than a few frustrating quirks, isn't conducive to the type of sharing Web-based networks enjoy across a variety of devices. I can access all three of the aforementioned sites from my Android phone, and I have a variety of apps that allow me to seamlessly integrate these applications into my life. To use Ping, I would have to be tethered to my iMac.
NPR also notes that Ping is a "weakened" version of Twitter only meant to drive sales to the iTunes Store. Looking at artists' profiles and the messages they share on Ping, it's not difficult to understand NPR's position. Perhaps their hammer went down a little too hard on Apple's new service, though? Sure Ping is not a massive hit, but it has room to grow.
As it stands right now, Apple wants its users to believe in Ping. The problem is, people sometimes don't want to wait for things to get better. Here's to hoping Ping will get insanely better in 2011.