There’s been a ton of discourse on Dalton Caldwell’s App.net lately, and now that its funding goal of $500k has been reached, I thought I’d write a few lines on the reasons why I am a backer, and why I believe it is a necessary product today.
I have to preface this by saying I love Twitter. I joined in the very early days (easy to guess by my username), when it was still called Twttr and was basically a hangout for people I knew from the valley. It didn’t solve any particular problem at the time, but it grew into a way for people to stay in touch, a micropublishing platform, and a backchannel for, well, most things these days.
Twitter is free, yes, but not really. Allow me to explain. Those guys (a great team of people) have been at it for years, and need to make ends meet. Turning their millions of users into paying customers would be a flop, so their customers are instead - you guessed it - brands. People on twitter are opinionated, vocal, and consequently they share a ton of information about themselves and their tastes. I’ll let you figure out what that means, but in one way or another - and I hope you knew it was coming to this to this -, the product when you use Twitter isn’t Twitter itself, but your interactions with it. You are the product.
App.net on the other hand is not free - in fact, it’ll cost you $50/year. But the logic behind it is that by being a paid service, you’re not the product - app.net is. You’re not being sold, you’re being sold to; you are the customer. It caters to your needs. This is refreshing in this kind of product.
I’m a fan of products that ask for cold hard cash and become sustainable businesses. Products that cost money live by simple rules: if they make people unhappy, people leave, they make less money and eventually fail. If they make people happy however, others join, money comes in, developers are rewarded.
So I’m paying for app.net. It doesn’t mean I’ll leave Twitter - that wouldn’t make sense unless things take a change for the worse. It does, however, mean that I believe a Twitter alternative makes sense. It makes sense that new features being added to that platform matter to me and not brands who want my “eyeballs”. I’m not much of a “Viva la revolucion” kind of guy, but users being in charge is refreshing. And app.net being fully funded means about 10.000 other people agree with that.
It probably means the idea is not that crazy.