App.net, the little for-pay social network that could, has recently dropped their pricing. Their new yearly rate is $36, which is cheap enough for me to experiment with.
Tangent: It’s interesting that in a post-app-store world a $50 per year service is considered “expensive”. What does your cell phone bill add up to in one year?
At $36 I can try it out; if it fails I don’t care. If it turns out to be awesome, then hey great! Look at this awesome thing I got for only $36.
App.net’s mission is to create a broadcast style (nee Twitteresque) social network for paying users without advertising. The goal is aligning the interests of the network provider with the users and third party developers. A service provider has a different relationship to paying users (and paying developers) than it does to users who pay nothing (except for their time, commitment to the platform, demographic data, etc).
If you are not paying for it, you are the product, not the customer.
- Everyone on the internet, all the time
I think App.net’s goal is noble and, if successful, good for the internet. I don’t believe that the old internet-bait-and-switch model of creating a popular product and then slapping advertising all over it is sustainable in the long run. I’d like to see good services at competitive prices instead of good services poisoned by desperate, intrusive, user hostile advertising models.
Of course, there is no guarantee that App.net will remain ad-free forever. If the service grows large, the temptations and opportunities will be great. Companies change hands. Key people in a company move on. Things change.
App.net currently has just over 20,000 users. At $36 per user, that’s a tidy little business. If they double that number each year it’s a very tidy little business but still a tiny user base compared to Twitter. But if they grow to, let’s say, half a million users that starts to be a pretty big number of people who are willing to spend money on the internet. That’s an appealing demographic to advertise to.
People pay for cable television which is littered with advertising. Some of the best parts of magazines are ads. A paid service isn’t necessarily incompatible with advertising. Paying customers may demand higher quality advertising than silly sponsored tweets, but probably won’t abandon a service they use and pay for just because an ad shows up. So current goals and promises notwithstanding, I don’t believe that App.net will remain advertising-free if they become very successful.
But anywho. I’m on App.net now with one measly post and one reply. If I can find a WordPress dingus that will post over to App.net I will start sending updates over that way.