Apple produces plenty of covetous hardware, and its software has long been a strength (even if it's starting to get a little stale), but the company has long struggled with internet services. MobileMe's launch was a disaster (and the service was always too expensive, even when it worked), iCloud's benefits are challenging to communicate — but the poster child for these difficulties has to be Ping. Apple's iTunes-based social network was first announced at the company's annual fall music event in 2010, but it completely failed to gain traction with users. Now, the company has mercifully shut down Ping for good, just as announced a few weeks ago. While there's still a "Ping" checkbox under Apple's iTunes preferences, all mention of the service has been scrubbed from the iTunes Store itself.
There are a lot of reasons why Ping failed, the biggest of which was probably the lack of Facebook integration when the service launched. Back in 2010, the word was that Apple was forced to pull Facebook from the service at the last minute, leaving the service handicapped. Without the backing of the world's biggest social network, the service never achieved critical mass — in fact, the only positive mention of Ping that we can find came right after launch, when Apple bragged of one million sign-ups in 24 hours. Aside from that Ping, exists only as a solid example of Apple's difficulty in getting people to use its web-based services — with the notable exception of the iTunes Store, of course. To look back at the highlight of Ping's short existence, check out the video below for Steve Jobs' introduction of the service in September 2010.