Killing Church Programs – What the Church Can Learn from Apple and Google

In your latest update to Apple’s free program, iTunes, Ping is gone. It’s disappeared. What is Ping?, you ask. (Well, you should be asking, What was Ping?) Ping was an attempt by Apple to get into the social media game by allowing people to easily share what songs they were listening to, liking, etc.

You know how people are always using Spotify or Pandora to share with you on Facebook the song that they’re listening to at the moment? Well, Apple was hoping that since over 300 million people use iTunes, they could get a piece of the action.

But it didn’t work. Ping had a low adoption rate — at least by Apple’s standards — so they killed the program. They didn’t keep it going for the millions of people who used it. They didn’t apologize. They just euthanized it and moved on.

Three years ago, I wrote a post about Google Wave as a Sermon Preparation Tool, and that post was picked up the next year by WorkingPreacher.org. Within months, Google killed Wave.

Google Wave was an online, real-time collaboration tool. I liked it, a lot, and I used it. But not enough people did. When asked about the death of Google Wave, CEO Eric Schmidt said,

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Steve Jobs, Beauty, and the Church

Earlier this week, before we learned of the death of Steve Jobs, someone I hadn’t seen for many years saw my laptop and said, “I remember when you used to brag about not using Apple products.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “Then I saw the light.

It’s true, I used to joke about how I was the only person in the emerging church movement who didn’t have a Mac.  I used Dells and Gateways, and I had a Verizon flip phone.  My standard line was, “A computer is a tool, not a piece of art.”  That always got laughs, and sometime even applause from the PC people in the crowd.

But then along came the iPhone.  It could do so, so much more than any other phone.  And it did it beautifully and easily.  It made what I did with it — business — enjoyable.

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