I just submitted this to Apple using the dusty and disused feedback form here.
Thank you for your recent inclusion of Ping in iTunes 10.
I don’t believe Ping in its current state offers much to iTunes users. Every longtime iTunes user has accumulated a large amount of data about their listening habits in the play counts and ratings that they apply to their own library (which is the most useful place to add this data, as it allows you to rate music on the go, create top-rated playlists, etc). However Ping’s store-centric (not user-centric) ratings model requires people to devote a lot of additional time trying to rate or ‘like’ music in the music store. Ping ought to use the existing data that it is currently ignoring as a leaping off point and encourage users to add data to the store listings by accepting ratings from the user’s library, but allowing ‘likes’ exclusively on the store, or some variation of that model.
Additionally, it is inconvenient to try to add people by individually searching or sending email. If no access to an existing network like Facebook or Twitter is possible or convenient, it seems self evident that Ping should be able to automatically find people from a user’s address book on request.
The issues I have listed, in addition to details like the clumsy way of adding three out of a handful of vague and meaningless genres of music to a users profile (as a sort of definition of who they are), make Ping seem like it is currently designed for users who 1) do not listen to much music, and 2) do not have many friends. Looking at typical usage on networks like Facebook and Last.fm show that a significant number of users do not fit this profile.
iTunes is a great application that has caused a boom in how much music many people listen to daily. Ping should also encourage effortless networking of users and curation of music using already existing data and resources.
Finally, I think it’s notable that there’s no official way to send feedback on iTunes 10 and Ping. The fact that this form is clearly out of date with both software version and device selections shows that it probably receives little attention. I appreciate that software should generally be led by vision and not always by appeasing users who may be short-sighted, but it’s difficult to justify products and features with the statement ‘we asked the users what they wanted’, when that dialogue does not actually exist.
Thank you for your time.