Why Ping Is a Stepping Stone to Social Commerce

Howdy DutyI am a huge fan of Om Malik. I just read his post on Apple’s Ping service, and have a difference of opinion. Om points out that it’s great that Apple is finally adding a social layer to their iTunes store. He goes on to mention that it’s about time, because Amazon has done a great job with this, and has enabled social commerce like letting bloggers become affiliates to sell products that Amazon offers (I am an Amazon affiliate, for instance).

But what I might have missed in the post was whether Ping was going to enable me to sell Apple’s wares in some better way, or whether it was going to let me promote other people’s things inside their social platform without being part of the ecosystem.

Said another way: it looks like Ping wants me to tell you which of Apple’s offerings I like without giving me any money for helping them make sales.

I might be wrong. I read it a few times, but I don’t see it.

So, what they’re saying (in my words) is: iTunes 10 lets you help us market our stuff to your friends and to follow artists we sell in our store.

Hey, it’s great that Apple’s putting a social layer on something finally, but as for whether this is social commerce, I’m going with “not so much.”

Social commerce is where there’s a relationship opportunity that benefits all the parties involved. When I share with you that Donald Miller’s book is one of my favorite books of 2010, and you buy a few hundred (as you have), I’m grateful that I’ve connected you with a book I love. I’m grateful that Amazon sends me a buck or two (I think it’s like $1.50) for every book I guide to your hands. And hopefully, when you read it, you’re grateful that you were alerted to such a useful book.

That, to me, is social commerce.

Ping isn’t that, but maybe it’s on the way there? I hope so. I’m glad Om talked about social commerce. It’s yet another reason why GigaOm is one of my top 5 blogs.

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  • http://www.hollisteruk.net/ hollister uk

    throw stones, I’m a fan of Apple. I’m on my second notebook and first iphone.

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  • szmg

    Ping is crippled by recording industry interests. It’s a good idea that has clearly been hacked down to almost nothing. It’s destined for irrelevance without major changes. If Apple could use the data they collect through Genius and your play count to create a social network and make contact suggestions, then they would have something special here. But they can’t, because the RIAA would fear that would lead to file sharing.

    It’s the same thought process that leads to banned social networks in China, only there the fear is idea sharing. The sad part of this is that a free and robust version of Ping would certainly lead to more exposure and sales, especially to independent artists.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mdemmick M. Drew Emmick

    I don’t think Ping is true social commerce, but Apple makes great products. I own an iPhone myself. If I could convince myself that I needed a new laptop, I’d own a MacBook Pro too :)

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  • http://twitter.com/justinEMIG Justin Emig

    You are exactly right Chris but i think it is deeper then just social commerce. If Apple was interested in growing their social base, rewarding those users who directly drive traffic through an affiliate program is a wonderful avenue. But if there is no monetary benefit, Apple will have to rely on its “cult like” following to drive the usage. Now if you truly would want to make it “social” then you should be able to recommend songs across all social network channels (i.e. FB, Twitter etc) upon song purchase. The fact that it merely takes into account purchase history, and doesn’t take into account, number of plays, tags, etc completely misses on the actual point of an actual social network and seems to play up more as a recommendation engine.

    Another point is that i feel it doesn’t necessarily have to all be monetary. Make it a game similar to 4sq with badges for most referrals. While people are more interested in the monetary aspect of it, that is not the only trigger that would warrant a recommendation. From the first appearance, i would rank Ping among other “social sharing” sites such as Dealigg and DealNews. But in terms of social commerce??? I feel it misses the point

  • http://twitter.com/melthel MThelemaque

    Well, Chris did write that social capital is more than just money. I can envision a fun experience — seeing what your friends are into. That’s great.

    The problem? Ping isn’t different enough from affiliate marketing. It just isn’t. And to really drive it home, it takes place inside a commercial space, the iTunes store.

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