Can apple do social network products?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by maflynn, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #1
    By that I mean can do they a service or a product that works or is popular.

    Here's what I'm thinking, apple's foray into group or social products have failed by and large. MobileMe, Ping, Facetime.

    I read an article a while back (I forget from whom) where they postulated that Apple's secretive corporate culture is counter intuitive to open social type apps/services. They're really great at making products and services aimed at a single user, but when they tried to provide a social networking type service, a la Ping, or something like MobileMe its not really all that successful.

    I say this now because of the impending unveiling of iCloud and/or MobileMe being reset again.

    Opinions on apple's ability to do social/group type products?
     
  2. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

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    #2
    These products failed because of the big barriers to entry.

    MobileMe - users must have a Mac.
    Ping - users must use iTunes (bloatware, incredibly sluggish on Windows compared to Spotify, Zune, Windows Media Player etc).
    Facetime - users must have a Mac, iPhone or iPod touch.

    The reason social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace etc are popular is because they're not tied to anything else. The whole point of using them is to use their services, whereas Ping in particular is focused on getting you to buy more music from iTunes.
     
  3. *LTD*, Jun 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011

    *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #3
    Interesting question.

    Not great at their own social network, but great at appealing to a wide audience, etc. One would think they *should* know how to do social networks because they understand the market so well. The question is, are they doing their own, or leveraging existing ones successfully? So far, they've done well with the latter - but it's been small-scale: A Facebook app here, a Twitter button there, a menu item, etc. Twitter, for example, is big. Implement "deeper integration" correctly and you've got a winner. Apple knows integration.

    Back to Apple doing their own. Part of the problem with Ping is that the idea might have been quite good a few years ago if it was entirely new. However, at this stage of Facebook's and Twitter's growth, you either revolutionize the whole paradigm or consumers will simply stick to the ones everyone else is already using. Facebook and Twitter are juggernauts. They can be accessed from any device, anywhere, anytime. No prerequisites. And do we really need another chat service? There aren't many options left in terms of recycling old paradigms. Apropos, there's no point in me using Facetime until it's freed from the wifi anchor. And at this point, it really isn't feasible to have it run on wireless networks due to load. Everyone using Facetime on a 3G network? Ouch. We have to get over these limitations. Facetime is a little too early to the game.

    This time around I'm not sure if I see the big risk. Apple is simply leveraging existing social networks. It seems they're betting on Twitter. A very good bet, as social networks go. Give it some Instagram love, perhaps? Twitter inclusion in a way sidesteps the whole success/failure question. Unless they try to roll their own again, which doesn't seem like their intention.

    As for iCloud, it seems to be a helluva lot more than social networking.
     
  4. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #4
    MobileMe clearly failed due to it's lack of compatibility for Windows/Android, it's slowness, the price and the annoying bugs.

    Ping failed due to the fact that the idea was simply terrible. There is no other way to put it, it was truly Apple's worst idea.

    FaceTime has failed because of the lack of compatibility for Windows/Android and that the product already exists in much better forms (AIM, Skype, MSN, etc) and Apple are kinda entering a saturated market.

    So two out of them are due to Apple's blatant lack of 'openness'. You have to have an Apple product to use an Apple social feature/product. Sorta contradicts the idea of 'social' does it not?

    I'm hoping for big things with iCloud.
     
  5. KingCrimson macrumors 65816

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    #5
    What's wrong with deep Twitter/Facebook integration? Why must EVERY single software be Apple?
     
  6. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

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    #6
    You missed my point. What I am postulating is that when apple tries to produce a product or service that is wider in scope then a single user, they seem to miss the mark. I'm not saying apple should invent its own facebook, or twitter.

    The reasons are plentiful as to failure of ping, mobileme and facetime and doesn't anyone find that strange. I mean a company renowned to being so obsessive about screw placements completely whiffed on these products. Its not like mobileme was a terrible idea, but it was implemented poorly. Apple isn't known for implementing products poorly, quite the opposite.

    I wonder if their secretive corporate culture which in a sense is anti-social works against them in producing products that are designed to be open and social. Apple is closed and secretive and they're trying to produce open and social products.
     
  7. KingCrimson macrumors 65816

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    #7
    It's because creating perfect PCs, devices for the individual is what's in Apples DNA, not social-networking. Social networking is a more recent concept and Twitter/Facebook are way ahead of the curve and are deeply integrated into just about everything. No use in competing with that.
     
  8. Mac Addiction macrumors newbie

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    #8
    I think you "hit it on the nail." Apple really "restricts" with their "Social Networks."
     
  9. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #9
    The cloud, social networking, and gaming

    3 things that Apple has a history of sucking at
     
  10. KingCrimson macrumors 65816

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    #10
    Why does Apple have to be good at those things? No one company can excel at everything. The idea in technology is you integrate solutions from different providers for a full user experience.
     
  11. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

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    #11
    Did I say they had to be good at everything? No I didn't.

    But since they've charged a premium for services like MobileMe and hyped up anomalies like the Game Center, as a consumer I think it's fine to point where they've failed.
     
  12. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

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    #12
    MobileMe didn't fail. There are thousands upon thousands of users. I have no idea what your definition of failure is but perhaps some elucidation is in order.

    FaceTime hasn't failed in facts its gone HD and is on every Mac and now every iOS device.

    In the end Apple doesn't really need to have homegrown social networking products. It's not their forte and they know it which is why I suspect Twitter and Facebook integration will be embedded more deeply in iOS 5. Apple is selling as many iOS devices as they can make. The money for them is to leverage 3rd party developer and services and keep the demand for Macs and iOS devices high.
     
  13. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

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    #13
    If MobileMe was successful, they wouldn't be trying to reboot it in the form of iCloud.

    And Dropbox by comparison has millions of users.

    I don't think FaceTime is a failure unless you consider the hype. Personally I use Skype, which is the same exact thing but I can use it over 3G and on more platforms than just Apple products.

    I blame AT&T more than Apple though.

    If that's the case I have no clue what they were trying to do with Ping
     
  14. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    #14
    I hope they don't try to. Let the ones that specialize in this arena play in this arena. No need to go there.

    Was mobileme even really a social network?
     
  15. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #15
    It isn't a reboot. It's the next logical step, which has been in the works for quite a while now. This will easily outdo all other cloud-attempts to date.
     
  16. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

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    #16
    I really hope so too and I'll be paying attention on Monday to see what they're offering

    But if all iCloud is, is the same slow ass MobileMe with media streaming, I'd rather have a reboot
     
  17. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #17
    I certainly hope that Apple has a lot more in store than just a re-boot, given all the work and planning that has *apparently* gone into this effort. I expect they will. It would be surprising if iCould wasn't the main attraction of the show. Mind you there are other things to talk about. But still, I expect it all to come under the iCloud umbrella.
     
  18. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #18
    I hope you're right about this one...
     
  19. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #19
    Meh, I'm a little shaky on this one, I'll admit. Cloud is a big deal and it's online services. Apple doesn't have a lot of history in this area.

    However, most anything Apple puts on "project status" these days turns into gold. If they're as serious about it as they let on then there isn't much to worry about. They even built all this physical infrastructure to go with it, fer chrissakes.

    I'm looking forward to what they unveil with more than usual anticipation. Either way, it's sure to be interesting.
     
  20. AppleScruff1 macrumors G3

    AppleScruff1

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    #20
    Wouldn't it be funny if it was one giant flop?
     
  21. buckers macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Though the iPod Touch and iPhone's unexpected success as a portable gaming platform has caused quite a stir in the industry, I think. Steam's new found affections for the Mac is also notable.
     
  22. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

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    #22
    Success based on mini games, Gameloft ripping off IP, and ports of 20 year old Nintendo games during a time when Nintendo and Sony weren't doing anything significant.

    And Steam is a distribution platform. Of course they'd want it on other OS's
     
  23. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

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    #23
    They were good at the iTunes Store, which is an Internet service wrapped in software. However, I have never quite understood how the iTunes Store has stood the test of time . . . I guess it's kind of like AOL and gets ingrained in people's patterns. It is easy to use and it's there when people are syncing their devices, but I would say they have made the interface worse (I can't remember when they switched to the current web-page like interface, but I don't care for it, scrolling horizontally and vertically on the same page is difficult). iTunes as software has become a monstrosity serving system wide functions, and I would say the program is less intuitive than when it was introduced.

    Going way back, they also kind of failed at eWorld; although, I will say eWorld had attractive icons!

    MobileMe is very useful, but as someone who had to attach it to orders (worked at Apple as a contractor in sales), I will say it was very hard to sell. It was extremely difficult to say in one sentence what MobileMe does, which is one of its problems. AppleCare was very easy to sell in comparison. MobileMe has quite a bit of downtime for me, too. And just trying to click on iDisk still to this day will sometimes bring the Finder to a crashing halt.

    Ping was just sort of like an idea thought up by marketing people. I have no idea what its purpose is. I have written before how I thought they could have made it better, but I won't rehash all that.

    I would say that Apple seems much more comfortable writing software where they control all the pieces. MobileMe on the web even has an application-like feel, but it's not as reliable or usable as other services. It feels a bit like using something that is pretty, but I don't even really trust it, especially sending mail from MobileMe on the web. It just doesn't feel "real." Not to mention that when MobileMe first came out, you couldn't even access it from IE 6, which is one of the browsers you're likely to encounter in the wild when away from your computer (esp at that time, but still in many rural parts of the world). Galleries on MobileMe are also very hobbled. You can't link directly to photos, can't view pics in very large sizes. Can't add files to iDisk and have them show up online in a public directory. Apple sometimes designs things to the point that if you wanted to do something other than what they predicted you wanted to do, you're stuck. They used to be the opposite when they first came out with the Mac. They came up with a very clever, simple paradigm of how things worked, and you figured out how to do things using simple, consistent rules. I would say Apple has become more Windows-like in that a lot of its programs including iLife are almost like Windows Wizards that take you through tasks that have an end result in mind, such as making a movie trailer, photo book, etc. They expect you to export to their services, rather than allowing you to drop a photograph onto your iDisk a la FTP and have it show up on your server space. I know you can also export to other services, so that point doesn't stand entirely. What does stand is that they make somewhat closed systems, and somewhat less intuitively than the past. I think to make a great social Internet service you would need it to be both of those things: intuitive and allow for user invention. I don't think the founders of Facebook had any idea what it would be used for, or the founders of Twitter for that mater. It's about building a platform where you, the user, can use the rules set up to accomplish something, rather than what the system predicts and wants you to do, just like on the original Mac. Ping, for example, just wants you to share that you like music on iTunes. That's not open or inventive. You might as well just put the Apple sticker on the back of your car to say you like Apple, that's all Ping really accomplishes, promotion of iTunes Store by its own users, and who wants to do that?

    But to answer your question. I don't know if they can make a great service. I would imagine there is a lot of pressure on not allowing iCloud to fail like MobileMe did a few years ago. Want to know something funny? I'm gonna back up all my e-mail and stuff from iDisk before Monday just in case. That's how much faith I have in their Internet services.
     
  24. Bernard SG macrumors 65816

    Bernard SG

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    #24
    Apple struggles with social because Ad-based business models are not in the company's DNA.
    Another problem they have, which is actually related to the above, is that Apple's vision so far is way too much US-centric. There are signs that they're slowly moving past that, but it takes time to change.
    The whole iCloud thing for example is going to be basically useless for Asia, where you can't buy content on iTunes.
     
  25. FroMann macrumors 6502

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    #25
    After using Ping, no. Most of this social networking stuff sucks anyway.
     

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