App.Net

Some of you have maybe heard about the up and coming social network, App.Net. It’s a subscription-based, ad-free social network which, so far, seems to be mainly for developers to promote their applications.

By invite, I was given a free account so that I could test out the site and give my opinions. There are a lot of really interesting pros, but also a ton of cons. The question is: do the pros outweigh the cons?

The very first thing that any new member will notice is that it is a paid service, which requires an annual subscription. Most people do not want to pay for a service that is free everywhere else. You can become a standard member for $36 /year or you can register as a developer to promote your applications for $100 /year. Both accounts feature 10GB of online storage as well as access to Alpha, the social network part of the site, while the Developer accounts get access to the API. Developers can also register two standard accounts for a “discounted rate.”

The next problem is that there are less than 20,000 users currently. While that may seem like a lot, remember that they’re not all celebrities or people-of-interest that everyone would want to follow. In comparison, Twitter has approximately 500 million active accounts while Facebook reaches well over a billion (SOURCE).

But on the positive side, App.Net has an extremely beautiful UI that’s minimalistic, yet it includes many features that provide an overall exciting experience for the end-user. The usage is similar to that of Twitter, so users who are already familiar with microblogging should have no problem getting started.

Also a plus, the customer service is extremely friendly and they reply in a timely manner, especially for email-based support. Each account gets one opportunity to change their username (for security reasons, they say). While testing out other possible usernames for my account, I accidentally clicked to confirm the change and was stuck with the other username. A quick email to their support team re-enabled my account for a username change again. The support representative, Aaron, even contacted me again a few days later to ask how I was liking the site and offered to answer any questions. He did answer a few for me that have helped me write this review.

Overall, I think App.Net and Alpha could have a lot of potential in the social networking industry. However, the required subscription will limit it’s reach. The fact that it’s being marketed towards application developers will also have an effect on it’s well-being, as many developers prefer to use more popular services that allow them to communicate with each other as well as the general public.

As for me, I will continue to use App.Net’s service. It’s interesting and I really hope that they can make some changes to open the service up to a broader market.

My App.Net username is @evanp – feel free to follow me as I continue to explore the network.

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