Apple’s iTunes Match Outshines as Ping Struggles
Apple has finally made its music service, iTunes Match available on Monday after missing the launch date by several weeks. iTunes Match scans your iTunes library and then allows you to download songs onto any iOS device or iMac or MacBook with a 10 device, 25,000 track limit. The new service is available by upgrading to iTunes 10.5.1, and is only available in the U.S. because of recording company restrictions.
What You Get
At $24.99 per year the service matches up the tracks in your library ? whether they were purchased from iTunes or not, and will replace them with a 256 Kbps AAC DRM-free track for download to any of your devices, as long as they are associated to your Apple ID. This basically means you’ve just improved the quality of your MP3 file and are now locked into iTunes to get that quality going forwards.
On the occasion that Apple can’t find an exact track match, it will just pull your original track into the service, and make it available on your iPods, iPads, iPhones and Mac-based products.
Initial reports coming in are that full library scans are taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and that Apple’s servers have been overloaded by the demand. Apple had to delay new subscriptions this week until it can work through the existing Match workload.
And Then There’s Ping
iTunes Match so far seems to be much more popular than Apple’s Ping social service integrated recently into iTunes. Ping is supposed to get iTunes users more intimate with bands and also share song recommendations with friends. At Ipsos Vantis, we just recently tested Ping’s messaging and approach and have found that it fails with consumers in a number of areas. Ping did not fare well in our Key Measure Scorecard as far as uniqueness, need fulfillment, and liking, as scores were moderate to below average. Despite above average purchase intent, Ping really hasn’t caught on in the market.
In addition, Ping’s low Message Power Score means that it will struggle with the current marketing copy ? and it is. Its low Buzz Power Score means that iTunes users will not talk about Ping enough in their social circles to stimulate organic word of mouth awareness generation, and they aren’t. You just don’t hear about Ping users months after its release.
So far, it doesn’t appear that iTunes Match is headed down the same path as Ping based on demand and Apple’s inability to keep its server loads humming. But it will be interesting to see how iTunes Match’s subscription numbers fare as we end the year and into 2012, especially now that Google has rolled out its music service offering, Google Music with Google+ integration. It is clear that the cloud wars are on as far as music and entertainment are concerned. Whether Apple, Google, or Amazon will dominate remains to be seen, so far.
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