For me it's very simple: I pay to have fun with the service. I've spent more time playing with app.net in the past month than I spent watching Netflix in the past year. How many people like me are out there? Who knows, that's the X million dollar question.
To your second point, Twitter is not Facebook. You cannot replace Facebook easily because you'd have to convince your friends and family to go elsewhere. On Twitter I follow a bunch of interesting people who tweet news, links, thoughts. I don't need the same people to be at app.net. As long as there are 100-200 interesting and active people for me to follow / interact with, that's good enough.
> Our most valuable asset is your trust.
That's always been my issue with app.net. I don't think they're positioning themselves to deliver on their own brand promise. It's an entirely separate issue than if they'll be successful and how much value their users derive.
But that really has me wonder...what the hell?
Has everyone who has signed up for app.net used status.net and found it lacking; have people not heard of status.net or does app.net do something I don't know about?
I spent $100 to have developer access. For me it's fun to observe the community develop, and see what interesting insights I can get from the data. In my case I don't feel the money I paid is significant. The time I spend online is the real cost. I suspect it's the same for many other people there.
There is certainly overlap, but asking about comparisons or why isn't something used without providing examples as to why they should be used doesn't help those of us not wholly familiar with them.
Last week during Hurricane Isaac, most of NOLA was without power, our street was flooded, and my only communication with the outside world was via text messaging and Twitter. Twitter kept us up-to-date re: storm projections, conditions of the city, and everything else we needed to know. I did some searching of App.net for Isaac-related posts, and didn't find anything useful.
This is the moment that I realized that App.net is (at the moment) nothing more than a toy and novelty. Twitter is a UTILITY and it was indispensable during Isaac.
Even immediately post-Isaac, it was how we learned what stores (and bars) were open, where to get gas, and the status of roads and the utility companies. Hell, we even tweeted photos of road hazards to @nolaready and they were taken care of.
I'm a backer of App.net and I hope this reverses, but the current state is very clear.
Part of me says Dalton is on to something. The numbers seem to be evidence of that. Another part of me can't wrap my head around the value proposition. But it exists somehow. If I'm right then the numbers represent people who are signing up out of sheer curiosity and wouldn't renew (unless it's automatic). That would infer (to me) that the community might not be sustainable.
It's fascinating nonetheless.
A good API, on the other hand, means that there'll be huge innovation on the client front. Not now; right now, most things look like Twitter, and there're many clients which are all a tad basic. But give it some time to evolve. Soon, ADN will have quality discussions, quality clients, and lots of innovative features since it is so open to changes (as opposed to Twitter, who at some point became very opposed to changes).
If you ask me right now, I'd say the big value proposition of ADN is the quality of the discussion, if you ask me in 5 months, I guess I'll answer that it's the fantastic client ecosystem.
EDIT: I thought I should mention that I'm the author of the ADM Mac client #appetizer (http://www.instadesk-app.com/appetizer)
In my opinion, there are free alternatives to ADN (namely, Twitter) and the value of simply participating in a community isn't one that I believe a large # of people would pay for.
Keep in mind, ADN is a venture funded business. I'm just not seeing it.
All that said, I hope they figure something out. I have talked to Dalton and one of my friends works on it. I hope you're able to do something with the #appetizer as well.
I would also pay for an online newspaper that lacks advertisement and employs really good journalists to paint a picture that is as close to the truth as possible. The less ties between a newspaper and any industry, the less the chance that a story is pulled because the company in question places lots of advertisement in the newspaper.
It's true that most people wouldn't want to pay for a community, many people on Twitter only use it to read what celebrities are up to. However, I don't think that a social network needs to be as big as Facebook anymore to be successful - or Twitter, or Instagram. As long as there's a vibrant community, that is dedicated to the service, and solid growth, everything is fine.
Especially since Facebook (at least for me) already satisfies the 'friends' kind of social network. I have all my contacts there, so for engaging with them, I go to Facebook, I don't need another service. If I join another service, then because the value proposition is not about friends, but about something different. Badoo is a success because their value proposition is about dating, and Twitter is a success because they offer many-to-many friendships and open celebrities. Again, Instagram was a success because they changed the mapping, instead of friends -> content they went for content -> friends.
As long as a network doesn't compete with Facebook on their core values, i guess they're fine.
On Twitter, I don't care if there're 10Million or 100Million other users, I can only see so many. So as long as there're enough users on ADN I'd guess that I'm happy there.
Oh, I'm also just trying to explain what I think about where this is going, I'm not trying to defend anything, sorry if it sounds like that :)
Thanks, Appetizer is in many ways a side project right now, but it's fun working on it. Also, while we're at it, I like the OpenPhoto approach, I really want to install it once I find some time. Had it on my todo list for months now. I'm unhappy with most current online photo solutions, and having them on my own server sounds just about right. I wish you best of luck there :)
There are a couple online services I absolutely love paying for. I wish there were more. ADN seems like it might be that for a larger number than I had originally thought.
Here's to the future of everyone using Appetizer to post photos from their OpenPhoto site ;).
I don't think you can read the posts programmatically (including metadata) unless you pay for developer access to the api.
Identi.ca also appears to be full of spam. Basically nothing will kill a public space faster or deader. There is a certain set of users who will stick around in a chat room/feed/forum/whatever full of spambots, but it's not a high-quality audience and doesn't tend to grow much.