Speaking to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at last night to kick off AllThingsD's D10 Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is exploring the possibility of killing Ping.
Wait, you may be saying, what's Ping? Considering how little attention Ping has gotten over the last couple of years, you could be forgiven for not knowing what it is. The next time that someone tells you that everything Apple touches turns to gold (or cash, or increased market value, or whatever), you can point to Ping. Launched in 2010 as part of iTunes 10, Ping is Apple's attempt at its own social network centered on music. Ping promised to let users "[f]ollow your favorite artists and friends to discover the music they're talking about, listening to, and downloading."
While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, Ping was an epic flop, to put it bluntly. The simple fact is that almost nobody used it. During the question and answer portion of last night's interview, an audience member asked about Ping, and whether Apple would continue to experiment in the social media space. Cook's reply neatly avoided discussing Ping directly: "Apple doesn't have to own a social network, but does Apple have to be social? Yes." He pointed to the integration of Twitter into iOS 5 last year, and into OS X Mountain Lion later this year. Earlier in the talk he suggested that Facebook integration may be coming soon, too.
Cook wasn't allowed to get off that easily, though. When asked again about Ping directly he responded that Apple had tried Ping, and the customers just weren't interested. He said that Apple would look at killing it, though Swisher suggested selling it to Google+.