Apple reportedly about to axe Ping social network

Music-oriented network to be abandoned in favor of links to Facebook, Twitter

Apple's music-oriented social network, Ping, is reportedly getting the axe.

Ping, which debuted in September 2010, never managed to gain much excitement or users so Apple is abandoning the network, according to a report in All Things D late Tuesday.

Citing unnamed sources, the report noted that Ping, which runs in iTunes 10.6.3 and the iOS 6 beta, will be gone with the software's next major release, which is expected this fall. After Ping is history, the company will focus on partnering with Facebook and Twitter.

Apple could not be reached for comment at deadline.

"It's fair to say Ping has been a flop," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "I think it was always too limited... It makes all the sense it the world to leverage the large social networks that are out there."

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it's integrating Facebook into its operating system software. At the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple said Facebook will be integrated into the iOS software that runs the iPhone and iPad, as well as into the latest OS X version, Mountain Lion.

In an interview Tuesday, Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said the integration is as good for Apple as it is for Facebook.

"There are almost a billion Facebook users. That's a big, big number, even for Apple," Olds said. "Down the road, there might be a mechanism where Facebook users can buy and view Apple content via the Facebook interface with friends. So there's a lot of potential synergy here."

Only time will tell how closely Apple links itself to Facebook and Twitter, but Kerravala said it's good for Apple to take risks.

"Apple doesn't fail at things very often," he added. "The lesson is to stick to your core competency and leverage what's available... But if you don't fail at things, you're not taking enough risks. You're always being safe. The key is to know that if you've failed, not to continue throwing good money after bad and they're not doing that."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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