I'm pretty sure this is incorrect. Those of us that signed up for the $50/year deal got our subscriptions extended when the price dropped to $36. My renewal date is April 9th 2014 (i.e. more than a year away).
Setting aside that piece of nit picking, Marco's completely right that in order for App.net to be useful to both end users and developers it first needs to be popular. It's a chicken and egg problem in some ways (no users without interesting apps, no interesting apps without a lot of users). Opening the doors with invite-only free accounts goes some of the way towards solving that problem without the scaling issues that would come with unrestricted free accounts.
I think that the chicken and egg problem may be a little more fundamental. The major social networks (Twitter/Facebook) first had a compelling application and then later migrated to try to be more like platforms. App.net is trying to be a platform first, without providing a compelling application first. They need at least one killer app to convince people to sign up, and that is what they should be pushing to end-users.
They can push the File API/platform to devs at the same time, but who is their real customer? The end user or the developer? It's hard to figure out.
The developers behind it have a weird preoccupation with preserving all your content forever. For example, if you edit your Tent profile, people can still get all the old versions and see info that you deleted. And last time I checked, not only was this the default behavior, there was no way to opt out of it, either. And they claim this is a feature but nobody I have talked to wants it.
I also followed the Tent software's development for several months (initially I was extremely excited about the project). It broke frequently and progress on making it do what it was supposed to was slow. Plenty of features were promised ("we'll implement X next week") but never delivered even after months.
I don't think the developers really understand the problems social software solves, nor do they have a clear idea what their own project does and doesn't do (they seem to think everything should be a Tent.io app, which is crazy), nor are they particularly good at shipping. I've moved on, personally.
It seems that it's supposed to be distributed, but there seems to be no easy way to find users that are distributed.
Currently it's email-based discovery, but other services using OAuth could conceivably be added.
Our apps, whether they are dedicated app.net clients like Netbot or just apps that let you post content to a user's app.net account, add to the network effect that can help app.net grow.
Developers should be allowed to build against the platform at the same price as regular people pay to become members in my opinion.
I'll be watching app.net and seeing if they change their stance on this in the near future.
However, paying $99 for the right just to develop against an API so I can add it as an option for an app I'm making doesn't compute for me.
I'd probably not use the service enough as a regular user to warrant it either.
I really want something like tent.io to succeed (and when my time frees up shortly I'm considering playing around in that space) but I don't quite think anyone's figured out how to make these open frameworks be as user friendly and seemless as these convenient friendly silos.
App.net seems like the answer to a question, just not a question many people are asking.
I've pretty much canned the idea at this stage, because I'd love to build this thing, but the three funding options seem to be angel, subscriptions or ads. The first and third make me behooven to someone else; the third would also require (if I wanted to do it right) writing a ad-engine backend and actually hiring people to source ads and crap like that.
Subs would be awesome, but since my app neither makes you money or gets you laid I don't see anyone paying for it.
All I need is zillions of dollars and for a 30 month patent process to run a smidge faster.
A simple script gets rid of all Twitter website junk quietly and automatically. No Promoted tweets, no "You may want to follow" nags, no "Now trending" junk. Nothing, but a stream of tweets from those I follow.
I realize that making people pay to use the service is likely to attract a different user base, but the lack of ads doesn't really move a needle a bit.
I'm so used to the boom or bust model, especially when it comes to SocN that it never occurred to me that they'd be okay with niche
To me, it feels like it should be a tiny fraction of that, but perhaps my judgement is off?
I mean, compared to say youtube, you have to deal with short strings of text...
But if it were cheaper, wouldn't a lot more people be able to sign up too? At $5/month, it's almost what you pay for Netflix. It's probably more than most people pay for their bank accounts.
I think we're about to see a new generation of apps that take advantage of user-owned file storage. For years, native apps have stored all of their data on hardware users own. Now that everyone basically has some kind of always-on file server, I think we'll be able to do similar architectures in the cloud. Imagine if we built the next Instagram by storing all the photos entirely in the user's Dropbox and just have a heavy caching layer on ec2. I'm working on a platform right now that should make building this kind of app pretty easy.
I think there's room for all of the competitors in the space to benefit from this paradigm shift.
I find it a little ironic that you view dropbox as "user owned file storage." I don't have a dropbox account and don't want one. I'm happy to pay for (and I do pay for) a separate service that gives me webdav file access, but it seems like it's less and less common for programs/apps to support that. (please support that in your platform!)
At first, I enjoyed the service. But, I gradually stopped participating. Perhaps it was the lack of new people to follow. I might retry again, if more people use the service.
You are building a platform, you want lots of apps. It doesn't make sense to charge developers $100/year. These are the people who are going to innovate on your platform. These are the people who will make your platform more visible by integrating it into various services.
The company I work for has Facebook / Twitter sign up. I use app.net and I would add a signup option to our website if I did not have to pay $100/yr to do it. Not when perhaps a handful of people will use it and I will see no return on this $64 additional investment.
Of couse I'm biased, but permit me to dream: it would be great if App.net would consider building on an open and distributed/federated design like tent, status.net or buddycloud. The App.net guys seem great at design and building an ecosystem and the syngergies would be a really interesting alternative to Twitter/FB.
Just post your email there if you want one, then delete someone's email if you sent them an invite.
(Mods - this strikes me as more organized, but you can remove it if you don't approve)
Thanks in advance!
Now, I have to say, I really don't get it at all anymore. What it is thing about now?
In exchange, I'll buy you a beer (or coffee) if you are ever in LA. Or if you are in SF I will be there next weekend, and I'll be you a beer (or coffee) then if you'd like!
This sounds like a problem that can be fixed by throwing lots of money at it, but that doesn't fit their business model...
I really don't want to enter my credit card information on the page of a startup.
But now it seems to be a little too late. Good night, sweet service.
However there is a real challenger waiting in the wings. Its name is Buffer.
If that's the value proposition, than it's a terrible one. There is nothing inherently different about App.net that would protect your privacy or guarantee you ownership (of your tweets?). They can try and argue that position while they are tiny and inconsequential but it will ring hollow once (if) they get big.
I think there's potential in a service like App.net, especially if they cater to their audience (developers and start up culture in general) and are willing to go for a steady organic growth. Developers are a great group to target because they are fashionistas and they love to tie themselves to services that increase their 'street cred'. Now that GitHub is mainstream, the time is right for 'the next thing'. If App.net tries to be Twitter with a better EULA they will fail.
I've been sitting on the sidelines and looking at App.net, and never pulled the trigger on a subscription, but I may check them out now with an invite. I really hope they do well. There's potential.
The concept here is that by making their money from the users directly they align the users' interests with their own.
> it will ring hollow once (if) they get big
I suppose it's possible that they could decide they're not making enough money and convert to an ad revenue model. The problem is that there is already an ad supported service which is quite similar and free, so if they did that they would essentially lose all their users instantly. They'd also be violating their own core beliefs. I think they're a lot more likely to shut down the service from lack of users than they are to "sell out" in this fashion. I mean, there's nothing stopping Microsoft from shutting down the Windows division and focusing on Office for Mac, except that it would completely undermine their brand, and they make significant money from the Windows side. It's the same situation here: switching to an ad model undermines their brand and loses them their paying customers.
Besides that, Marco's goal is to achieve profitability with a small userbase. I don't doubt that it's possible to do that, and it undermines the "they'll screw you over when they get big" concept because they are not, like most startups, trying to reach ridiculous scale before figuring out how to make money, which seems to leave the ad model as the only possible option.