Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple's Ping and consumer versus media adoption

Late Friday ramblings:
I spend a lot of time in iTunes, digging through the vast array of me-too media apps, etc. Then, when I am no longer working on media stuff, I am still in iTunes using the player to listen to music, searching for the newest offering from Charles Lloyd or Jordi Savall (that will tell you a bit about my tastes).

So you would think Ping, Apple's new social networking tool for music, might be right up my alley. But not really, I'm not one to use Facebook or other social networking tools unless I really feel it necessary. My use of Twitter, for instance, is pretty much limited to the feeds that come off this site.
There was once a time when I was an early adopter -- e-mail, for instance. But no more. I think most social networking tools are picked up by younger people and then they spread out to the rest of the population (unless you are talking about, I suppose). I bought an iPhone early one, and received my iPad on launch day not just because I liked the technology, but because it is my job (all those tech writers who said they would not by an iPad were committing malpractice, in my opinion).

I think this pattern of slow adoption is true of most media people. Articles continue to appear about Facebook as if it was recently launched, articles that are so naively written that they must make regular Facebook users cringe.

To test my theory I decided to first see if any of my acquaintance were early adopters of Ping. I didn't expect much and I was not disappointed.

OK, next let's try media folk -- both people I personally know and those in digital leadership positions. Some who have fairly common last names were difficult to look up, but I gave it a shot, but still no results. Is anyone using this thing, I thought to myself?

Lastly, how about all those app developers I have daily contact with, surely those folks are techie enough to want to use something new, right?

Well, I did find one person -- one. I found someone from Portugal that I thought might be a designer who recently wrote in -- but it turns out his name is not that uncommon, maybe that wasn't the same guy, who could tell?  (I felt a little foolish at this point - it was like searching for "John Smith" -- which by the way, pulls up 27 pages of people at the moment).

The point: most media people, and the ones who interact with them, are increasingly in a bad position to judge trends when it comes to consumer marketing, and technology, specifically. I still talk to people who are convinced that there will never be a profitable way to publishing online, and that if they only stick it out a little longer their print products will return to profitability -- so why invest in mobile, let alone tablet apps? How could we expect these same media people to recognize a new trend?

Heck, I haven't a clue as to whether Ping will be the next great social networking tool (seeing Lady Gaga being used to promote the thing is enough to end my interest), but you'll find me in there anyway -- just to test it out. It is what is necessary in this strange new world of media.