Ping, Apple's social network for music, has proven to be a disappointment, but the company's Game Center social network looks like it's bound for glory.
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Apple has been slow to embrace social media, but the company's latest operating systems, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, suggest that's changing.
At its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, Apple said that OS X Mountain Lion will be available in July for $20 and that iOS 6, now available in beta form for developers, will ship in the fall. Game Center, the social gaming network that Apple introduced in iOS 4 in the fall of 2010, will be enhanced in iOS 6 with new social features and will be made available in OS X Mountain Lion, too.
"We tried Ping, and I think the customer voted and said 'This isn't something that I want to put a lot of energy into,'" Cook explained, adding, "Will we kill it? I don’t know. We'll look at that."
But Game Center, released only a week after Ping, turned out better. At WWDC, Scott Forstall, senior VP of iOS software at Apple, said there are 130 million Game Center accounts and that two-thirds of the top 100 iOS games have some level of Game Center integration. So more than a quarter of the 400 million people with iTunes App Store accounts participate in Game Center.
Thanks to the enhancements coming to Game Center, the service is likely to become more useful to developers and more compelling for users. Once Game Center arrives on Apple desktop and notebook computers next month via OS X Mountain Lion, users will be able to experience cross-platform game play between iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs.
And iOS 6 will up the ante further through better Facebook integration, which will allow the posting of Game Center achievements, for example. It will also add the ability to send game-related challenges to friends. Made more visible via Facebook, Game Center should keep growing.
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