App.net, the premium real-time social feed (aka Twitter without the ads) that costs members $50 per year, has been making quite a splash in tech circles as of late. So what exactly were the market opportunities that Dalton Caldwell saw and what pain points is he addressing? How compelling are they? What did he feel Twitter left on the table and why are people so excited about this new service? There must be something there, and if there is and it is significant, that begs the question: is App.net a Twitter killer?
Personally, I see the value in paying for a service right up front as I wrote about yesterday, but I think the price of admission is a bit too steep for mass adoption in this case. I like the idea of App.net, a lot, but I haven’t been compelled to join just yet. I definitely don’t like the name of the service; App.net sounds incredibly bland, especially compared to Twitter. It sounds like a boring enterprise software solution as opposed to a vibrant, young, anti-conventional movement. I think a rebrand could do the company good (both in name and color as they make good use of blue on their homepage, just like Twitter and Facebook).
On App.net’s homepage, the service uses some shout outs from press outlets as a way to toot it’s own horn (as do many startups) but I can’t seem to agree with everything that is said. For one thing, CNNMoney is quoted as saying, “Something is badly broken in the business models of social companies like Facebook, Twitter and Groupon. App.net wants to fix that.” Groupon, maybe, and yes Facebook is struggling with mobile ad adoption, but what is wrong with Twitter’s business model? It costs over $100,000 to promote a tweet for a day… millions of people love the service and the company is making money. Huh? TechCrunch purports that, “It’s high time that the advertising dominance has to come to an end.” Okay, that’s one opinion, but the experts I rounded up for this post seem to agree that App.net is going to have a very hard time finding mainstream momentum. How, exactly, does that bring advertising dominance to an end?
Regardless, App.net offers a fresh take on social networking which many people are going to appreciate. Do you think the startups has a good enough idea and the right execution to be a Twitter killer? Leave a comment and let us know. Here’s what the experts had to say:
(NO) App.net Wants to Be What Twitter Could Have Been
Personally, I don’t believe that App.net is a Twitter killer or even wants to be one. Twitter clearly has chosen the path of being a media company by allowing advertisers onto its platform. That means it will turn away from an Open Messaging platform that is just about connecting people, which is what App.net’s goal is. Twitter I believe will become part of more and more media content like TV, blogposts, videos and so forth. App.net on the other hand wants to simply be the plumping of our messaging. This is much more similar to SMS, although one-to-many and open. So I believe App.net wants to be “What Twitter could have been”, not what Twitter is today.
Contributed by: Leo Widrich, Co-Founder of Buffer
(NO) There’s No Such Thing as a Twitter Killer
Nothing is going to be a Twitter Killer–Twitter has outgrown itself and its original audience (which were mostly tech scene people), but at the same time, it’s harnessed much bigger powers. Twitter, as we now know it, isn’t going anywhere. That said, App.net is actually going to benefit from Twitter’s new attitudes: Twitter wants to be a media company with a marketing focus and that’s all well and good, but App.net wants to be an open API real time communication system, and that’s going to attract a whole different user base. Developers, tech news junkies, Redditors – these are the type of people who are going to be attracted to App.net. To say it’s a Twitter Killer is a misidentification, because Twitter has so dramatically repositioned itself that it’s hard to even think of these two in the same sense anymore.
(NO) App.net’s Fee Will Keep It From Going Mainstream
I don’t believe that App.net is a Twitter-killer—it will never be as mainstream simply because of the fact that there is a fee required to join. It is more about a community of users that want a better social networking experience—no spam, no ads, and all data rightfully belongs to the user. The developers on the service are also very active, and listen to users on what they want to see in their apps. Quite frankly, it’s great to see App.net encouraging developers to create apps, rather than Twitter, who seems to be slowly killing app development. App.net can also be seen more as a social platform, because there are many things that a developer can do with the API (e.g., social games, photography), rather than just native clients.
(NO) Other “Twitter Killers” Have Gone Out of Business
App.net has a great idea but I dont see it being a Twitter Killer. Especially as it has launched itself up front as charging for access and is anti-ads. People love the freemium model too much. People will sell everything to get free. I dont see a pay for access service becoming as big as Twitter and Facebook. As I wrote in my recent article: The “Facebook and Twitter Killers” are actually the ones of late going out of business. Diaspora, Unthink, Anybeat, Chime.in etc. all are pretty much dead after much hype and promise. I think Twitter and Facebook are too mainstream and widely adopted into our social and business fabric. I also wrote that when Google+ launched having 3 major networks competing for peoples’ time took all the air out of the room for small upstarts. I think app.net will have some great stuff with developers, will it ever be huge? I dont think so. Many of the signups appear to have paid to reserve their Brand’s name on the service in case it goes big, but are not using the service. I think it will be a place for the digerati type tech people mostly to have a community.
Contributed by: Chris Voss, CEO of TheChrisVossShow.com