App.net – will the gamble pay off?

A new form of social network reached its funding target this week that has a unique twist. You have to pay to use it.

App.net is a Twitter clone that users have to pay for in order to start using the service. It recently achieved its goal of obtaining $500,000 in funding by users subscribing to the site. Users could pay $50 for a standard twelve-month subscription, $100 for a developer’s membership and if they were feeling generous $1000, which includes a meeting with the brains of the idea Dalton Caldwell.

Unlike current social networking sites that are free, App.net will not have any adverts as the company’s funding comes from the paid memberships. Caldwell started up a Kickstart-esque funding pot asking people to pay for the site so they could further develop the idea and officially launch it. The goal was to get 10,000 people to collectively kick in $500,000. But at last count, App.net had raised more than $800,000 from 12,000 backers.

The inspiration for the idea came from the early days of Twitter, when the company was allowing developers to use its API keys, which are the hooks that external software needs to provide Twitter functionality. Twitter has since clamped down on what sites and developers it gives access to these keys, meaning they have less freedom to do what they want with the site.
The main focus of the site is to get third party developers to create apps for the site so that it can create a host of new ways to interact on App.net.

The site has already received good support from people in the tech world. Actor Stephen Fry has already signed up for the service and tweeted his excitement about the project to his vast amount of followers.

Sounds promising but will it become as popular as the giants of social networking? I don’t think so. The big reason for people to join up to social networking sites is that they are free to use. People may be put off by the fact that they have to pay for the service. Twitter is already free to use and offers basically the same service, the only difference being are the adverts and the lack of applications available.

The big promoters of social network sites are youngsters, who spread the knowledge of these sites quickly. We really can’t imagine they’re going to pay for a social website. It would be interesting to see whether the site can become the social network of choice for developers, which is probably their best chance of success.

These are early days yet and with 12,000 people already coughing up for the website, it is a decent start, but Caldwell knows that he will have his work cut out in order to become one of the social networking giants.

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About MUSTARD PR

We’re a savvy boutique team of brand and communication consultants working across consumer and B2B markets. We deliver strategic and creative PR campaigns that get our clients noticed no matter who they are – from start-ups to major global corporations.

Posted on August 17, 2012, in PR, Social media, tech and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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