Seesmic, which makes Twitter and Facebook access apps, is buying Ping.fm, a service for updating multiple social services at the same time. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Ping co-founders Adam Duffy and Sean McCullough are joining Seesmic and will begin work on integrating their service into the Seesmic clients, said Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur.
I covered the complexity and confusion of dealing with multiple personal networks in September 2008. A year and a bit later, there's been some consolidation of the players, but the game is still confusing: Pownce and Kwippy are gone, for example, and Friendfeed has been absorbed by Facebook. But many people still use multiple social networks and messaging systems, and for the most part, they need different applications to access them all. With Ping, you can post to--but not read from--Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Flicker, and many other networks. The service is accessible from the Ping.fm Web site, from various third-party mobile and desktop clients, as well as from instant messaging services and e-mail. It's a very capable switching station for personal network updates.
Ping.fm has flexibility to let you send certain updates to certain services. For example, you can denote one update as personal and have it posted on Facebook and Twitter, and the next you can call work-related and send only to LinkedIn. As I said, though, Ping.fm doesn't let you read updates from your networks. You'll want a more full-featured social client for that. Seesmic (or its competitor Tweetdeck) would be good place to start, but they're limited to reading from just a few services each at the moment. Seesmic currently reads Twitter and Facebook updates, but it will likely get support for more services in future versions.
A quick look at stats says that Ping.fm is growing, and certainly the multi-network skills that Seesmic is acquiring fit into that company's mission. But personally, while I used to be a big user of Ping.fm, I haven't used it in months and wonder if its time may be past. I no longer feel the need to update several networks at once, as nearly everyone in my personal and professional online worlds has migrated to only two services--Twitter and Facebook, respectively (which I have connected together without Ping.fm), with a few holdouts in LinkedIn. The problem I wrote about in 2008 still exists, technically, but socially I don't believe it is that big a problem. Perhaps the Ping.fm team can find new challenges to address at Seesmic.