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Apple’s social media failure now looks like success

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The lens of history shows Apple’s most heavily criticized decisions often become justified over time, whether that’s abandoning headphone ports, focusing on on-device AI, or letting the Ping social network disappear.

Apple’s social media failure now looks like success

Introduced in 2010, Apple marketing touted Ping as a “social network for music.” The company had hoped to work with Facebook on the service, but CEO Steve Jobs said the other company wanted terms he saw as “onerous.”

Instead, Apple ended up with a hugely limited system that no one really used, and a great deal of friction between Apple and Facebook. Not surprisingly, Ping never became a vibrant social network.

That’s great, as this also means Apple does not now face the kinds of challenges social media firms are dealing with, as it becomes clear the connected nature of these spaces has been undermined by bad actors who abuse the platforms for questionable benefit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took note of the ugly side of social media in a speech in 2018:

“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” he said.

“Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated or crazy.”

Cook’s comments seem prescient today.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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