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Apple's in the Garden

Steve Jobs announces Apple's new social networking tool, Ping.

Apple is getting social. Yesterday Apple's CEO Steve Jobs announced that his new version of iTunes will have social network built right in. It's called Ping.

Jobs says people will use Ping to see friends' music downloads, follow their favorite artists, and review concerts. But is Ping another way for Apple to get all of us to spend more time online and less time on the Web?

Apple is masterful at building "walled gardens" online. iTunes, the app store, and the iPad all offer simple, easy-to-understand online experiences with little hassle. Dan Ackerman, a senior editor at C-NET, says control and simplicity are part of Apple's basic business philosophy, and that works for many consumers. But Jim Louderback, CEO of the Internet TV company Revision3, worries that creating walled-off enclaves online will ultimately harm consumers and undermine the Web's promise of creating a truly democratic medium - where anyone can publish to the world. We talk with both about the pros and cons of walled gardens.

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