Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fail or Fab?

At a minimum, I always try and get up a blog post a week. Sometimes I'm really motivated (and have the time) and manage two or three. Given the fact that I recycled some old material in my post yesterday [transcript from my podcast with Mahalo founder, Jason Calacanis] I felt that it was only right to do at least one semi-original post.

Trust me, this one won't be a real thought provoker... but it does summarize a few of my observations on recent web 2.0 and social launches/enhancements. As always, please feel free to disagree with me or share your thoughts on this week's "Fail or Fab" post in the comments below.
  • FAIL: Apple's new music social network otherwise known as Ping. If you've tried it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. To get more specific:
    • One of the first music recommendations it provided to me was the artist, Cher. Now I'm not offended by this but if you take a look at my library, 95% of it is made of bands like Phoenix, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool and The Exies. Yes, my kids do have a few Adam Lambert songs in there but really? Cher?
    • There is no easy way to connect to my friends. I can hunt and peck for friends by searching for them. OR I can invite them to join Ping via e-mail. Not a good way to make this sticky or to encourage viral.
    • Allowing me to connect with artists or to download the songs on their iPod playlists is just pathetic. Yes, I'm sure there will be a bunch of 13 year old girls that do this (and maybe 50 year old dads going through their midlife crises) but I don't see a ton of people falling for the banana in the tailpipe trick.

  • FAB: Google Instant. Now let's not kid ourselves... this is nothing more than a feature. But it's a damn cool feature. One that anticipates what you're thinking before you think it... and then auto suggests it via your search window. Wait, are there little robots in my computer that are watching my every move?

  • FAB: Facebook's auto-translation pop up when you are on a foreign language page. The two things I like are: one, it's subtle (the recommendation gradually drops down from the menu bar) and two, it recognizes that my language is English and that the page I was not. We need more smart technology like this (visual below).

  • FAIL: Like Twitter, FourSquare has screwed with me more times than I can count... yet I keep coming back for more. Call it blind love. But at least Twitter doesn't have a real competitor. FourSquare does. They need to cut back on the checkin fails... pronto!

  • FAIL: Blogger's new "I'm trying to be like Wordpress" spam filter. While I like how it works, the fact that it notifies you that you've got a comment, if it's flagged the comment as spam, you have no way of finding it unless you remember to go and look in Blogger's special spam inbox. As a result of this new functionality, I made poor Jeff Cutler resubmit his comment twice (and almost a third time) before realizing what was happening. With WordPress, I'm notified every time there is a comment, spam or not. At that point, I can decide what I want to do with that comment by clicking on the link in the e-mail notification.
If you like this format, let me know. Maybe I'll try and do one of these every couple of weeks or so.


  1. "Wait, are there little robots in my computer that are watching my every move?" ... yes, yes there are ...

  2. Damn - I was afraid that was the case.

  3. If the goal of Apple is to sell more music you would think Ping would recommend music based on your library content. When I set it up it said pick 3 genres. I was like 3? You freaking kidding me?

    On the positive side I think including music sharing with friends would be great. The problem is we have way too many networks. Anytime one tries to be everything it collapses. Apple had one advantage over IMeem, Slacker, etc They have an installed base with ITunes probably bigger than Facebook has accounts. Think of that. I bet there are 1bil computers world wide with ITunes on them.

    I need to check out Google Instant. Thanks for the alert.

  4. I haven't had enough time to mess with Ping, having only just set it up, but so far it seems quite innocent.. and that's about what I'd expect from a v1.0 of a new network. I'm sure as time goes on, the experience will become richer, just as iTunes has over the years. Likely iTunes will become Ping (or vice-versa) over time. The idea that you can "share" your music collection with all of your friends makes perfect sense, because especially in youth, that is where we FIND new music. Having your music store become the place you hang with friends to discuss and share music is a no-brainer!

    I have to agree that the "choose any three" seems meek and lame, but that too will probably change in a short time. I can imagine the Ping builders deciding to hold back on how many genres are displayed/referred to at first to avoid overwhelming the first time user.

    So far what I dislike the most is the name. Ping? I have always used that word to indicate someone should check in with me, based on the practice of "pinging" a device to see if it's online and responding. I mean, on a certain level, I guess you could be pinging someone you follow to talk about the music they listen to, but its a stretch. It also sounds too much like Bing, MSFTs service which obviously does something completely different altogether. So having a virtually identical sounding name only causes brand confusion and opens users to be misunderstood in casual conversations. I don't like being misunderstood when I say something correctly, but the corporate name I reference creates the faux-pas. Bad idea for a social network to make it's members look dopey. :p

  5. -Howie/Darin, good perspective gents. As a little update, I actually played with Ping a little more after I put up this post. The one thing I DID like about Ping is that it shows me what new music my friends are checking out. And who they are friends with. And Darin, you are right about Ping evolving. I guess what disappointed me is that Apple puts out such beautiful, well thought out products (iTunes excepted) so the fact that Ping missed some of the basic blocking and tackling of a social network (no tie in to existing social graphs) AND gave me the least intuitive recommendation of who to follow (Cher? WTF?!?)

    I know Howie listened in but Darin, be sure to check out our latest Quick'n'Dirty as we spent a good five minutes up front discussing the good and bad of Ping.