Apple to shut down music social network Ping

Ping, Apple's laughable attempt at a social network, will be shut down with the next major release of iTunes, according to a report.

The social network, billed by Apple as "sort of like Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes," will apparently be phased out in favour of integration with those two existing, and much more successful, social media channels.

At the AllThingsD D10 conference in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook essentially acknowledged that the venture into social had proved to be a failure. "We tried Ping, and I think the customer voted and said, ‘This isn't something that I want to put a lot of energy into,'" Cook told attendees.

Though it amassed one million users less than 48 hours after its release, Ping struggled to keep those customers interested. By virtue of being a static, closed-off environment that gives users little in the way of social functionality, it often feels more like an extension of iTunes than a social network in its own right.

For instance, Ping's lack of Facebook integration - reportedly the result of a disagreement between the two companies over the terms of a deal - isolates users from the rest of their online social lives, making its sharing functions more or less irrelevant and its purported community-building virtually impossible. Competing music services like Spotify and Rdio, on the other hand, use Facebook to leverage their users' existing social capital.

As well, Ping misses the fundamental part of being a social network for music - the ability to easily share music with friends. Its 30-second preview feature is not particularly attractive when customers have plenty of other mechanisms through which to listen to entire songs legally and for free.

It's no surprise, then, that the company has apparently decided to leave social media to the experts. At Apple's WWDC keynote, the company said iOS 6 will see Facebook integrated with iTunes, iBookstore and App Store. We'll have to wait until autumn for more details, but it appears Facebook may be taking over Apple's social duties.