I have heard this so many times: “once you build a relationship with your customers, they will buy anything from you”.

The sad part is, in business, we all want to believe this statement. But, the reality is not as simple.

From behavioural limitations set by your audience to an inability to pave the way for success, there are quite a few things that can go wrong. The story of iTunes Ping failure shows exactly this.

iTunes Ping

In 2010, Apple announced that it’s 10th major update of iTunes will have a new social feature, simply called Ping.

As expected, Ping was expected to facilitate music-based networking. But, even with encouraging beginnings in the form of starting with a million users, the software died out within 3 years.

Put simply, there are two main reasons for the failure of Apple Ping.

1. Customer Behavioural Issues

There is no denying that Apple is among the most celebrated companies in human history. But, they have their limitations.

Over the years, Apple has developed a following for its software and hardware. But, the company has always struggled with internet-based services.

Ping is not even the first example of this. Before this, Apple struggled with MobileMe and even iCloud in its initial years. And, there is a simple reason for this.

Services like these demand the use of an added platform.

In other words, these services want its customers to physically move towards a different stage. And, Apple’s fan base consists of mostly a mature market that is happy to be provided the exact that is required. Anything extra and there is no guarantee that customers will join in.

You can learn more about Apple’s strategy in the following blogs:

  1. The History of Apple – 5 Lessons for Businesses to go Beyond Business
  2. To Associate or Not to Associate – That is the Question

But, this is not the only problem. Apple also failed to recognise it’s limitations.

2. Negotiating with the Other Big Boys

Apple is a giant in the business world. But, they have their own limitations.

Similar to the present time, Facebook was the biggest social media network in the late 2000s. And, cross platform sharing and integration was as important back then as it is now.

Facebook allows any network to integrate and share across it’s platform. But, they set a limit of 100 million requests per day. Given the projection that Ping would soon cross the said limit, Apple were required to negotiate a deal with Facebook.

More than the negotiation itself, Apple made the mistake of prematurely announcing Facebook social integration before the release. But, upon the release, Facebook blocked the integration for breaking the rules. Adding to the situation, the two giants never reached an agreement in any case.

Put simply, Apple had a dent in the service even before the release. And, they did not take the right steps to fix the potential issue.

Concluding Remarks

This blog buries the belief that a successful business can sell anything.

Without clearly understanding your target audience and the surrounding conditions, no business is able to take off.

A successful business in the first place buys you some breathing space. But, you still need to understand this breathing space and act accordingly for your future endeavours.