We’ve become accustomed to rather cynical annual software updates from the likes of Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Studio that deliver dubious new ‘features’ and diminishing backwards compatibility. Likewise we’re increasingly familiar with the perpetual beta nature of apps – software released early and continually refined. But I wonder if we’re entirely sold on the concept.
I’ve been thoroughly underwhelmed by Apple’s new music sharing service, Ping. When one releases a service like that into an already crowded marketplace, it’s got to offer something new or at least be better than existing services. But Ping doesn’t seem to do either of those things. Not only is it proprietary so I can’t share my existing services like last.fm or Spotify, I can’t connect to any of my existing social networks, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. It means I have to start again.
Forcing me to begin again could be an opportunity purge, spring clean and reinvent my musical tastes (something many of my friends would argue couldn’t happen soon enough) but the mechanisms Apple provides are far too restrictive to be appealing. I hate only being able to choose three styles of music and their recommendations suck.
Apple’s apparently unstoppable momentum has suffered a couple of knocks recently – the jury is still out on its decision to exclude Flash from its mobile devices and the iPhone 4 antenna debacle smacked of arrogant carelessness. And I don’t think its done itself any favours with Ping. It feels premature.
After numerous reinventions, Apple TV might just be on the verge of acceptance. I haven’t read a single positive review about Ping. Will it manage a similar turnaround or will it prove to be a perpetual beta too far?