This is not going to be a post comparing App.net (ADN) to Twitter, nor picking apart the various decisions made by the founders of ADN. Right now I’m not sure what it’s going to be. I’m going to try to understand how I got where I am and how the ADN got here too.
Introducing Free Accounts
A limited invite only free tier was introduced to ADN on 25 February 2013 6 months into the life of the service. In the post annoucing this change Dalton Caldwell highlighted how he modelled the service to extent on DropBox and GitHub, both of which operate a ‘freemium’ model. Losely defined as having a free and paid tiers to their services. Can you imagine joining either of these services without first trying them out? On the flipside how many of you pay for these services? I joined the free service via an invite about a month later.
After using the service for about 4 months of consideration - interacting with community, having some great conversations and for the first time in a while making connections online - I decided to get a paid account for a year. A bargain for $36 a year. Being the last person in the world to pay for a social network this was a big change. Apart from a few exceptions I rarely paid for apps.
Cobwebs and Moths begone
This seemed to open me to buying apps, really valuing developers and trying to positively influence a community I felt part of. Despite what my normal brain chemistry was telling me. As it stands I’m following 161 people and have 212 followers and have irregular conversations a good proportion. I do quite enjoy it.
Endtroducing the slimmer, leaner ADN
The biggest change has been a change in the bones of adn, with staff laid off and the life support machine turned on. This definitely wasn’t the plan when the service was setup. However I think there is still life in the community, there is still an interest in improving the service, perhaps by learning by other successful services or over analysing the perceived mistakes of the past. I’m not going to propose any solutions here because there are enough great ideas, what we need is great projects delivered. I’m not in a position to do that, I’ll support where I can and I’d encourage you to do the same.
I’m confident the community will survive regardless of what happens to ADN. There is still a lot of thinking to be done on how to build something a sustainable amount of people want to pay for. As the service is essentially a backend for other apps it really needs to be focussed on how it can support that and make it as painless for developer and users. I’m pretty sure being a clone of existing apps is not the way forward, blowing those existing services out of the water with greater integration and simplicity is the way it should be done.