We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done.
In order to combat the conventional business strategy of turning a user base into a lucrative product, users and developers that wish to participate on the App.net platform pay an annual subscription – $50 for users, $100 for developers – to access the network. App.net is currently in the tail end of a seed fund campaign with a goal of raising $500,000 by Monday evening. Development of the platform will only move forward if this financial goal is met and at the time of this writing the total raised is $410,000.
After spending a few days experimenting with the alpha and interacting with the 1,000 or so existing users, here is why I believe supporting this platform is important.
The foundation of App.net is most certainly a micro-blogging social network, but I feel calling it a Twitter clone is misrepresenting the potential of the platform. Users are actively participating with App.net and independent 3rd party developers to create a collective vision for how the network should evolve. Syntax, apps, vision and purpose are all being created organically in real-time. That’s exciting for me to see, let alone play a role in.
The dialog occurring on App.net is meaningful. The price-point could most definitely be viewed as a negative for casual users who are used to (and okay with) the existing model of free, ad-supported networks. However, to me the $50 barrier is an instant elimination of Justin Bieber mentions and irrelevant trending topics. People who pay to be a part of something usually take it seriously and so far App.net is no different.
In addition, the monetary barrier to entry will keep spambots at bay. Why would they want to pay $50 just to get booted from the service.
3) Customer Service
As with any alpha product, there are glitches and bugs. When I first joined the alpha, my profile page was returning a 404. Turns out, it was because my username started with “static.” App.net support was extremely responsive and fixed the issue in a matter of minutes. This level of customer service is very difficult to scale as the user base grows, but it is an extremely good sign.
App.net users are the customers. The content I post to App.net is not a product that can be sold to a brand or advertiser. Our business relationship is clear.
Let’s Fund This Thing
If the future of the social web is something you think about or holds even a shred of importance to you, supporting App.net is a no-brainer. The platform has so much potential; it would be a shame to not see this come to fruition.
Join me and thousands of others helping to evolve the social web. Join App.net.