6,792 backers, $465,600 raised, and 43 hours left. In a few hours from now, App.net should cross its original goal of raising $500,000 for a Twitter-competitor minus the ads. A small donation of $50 gets you a full-year membership to the service and an invitation to claim your username. Sounds like a great deal, but what the hell is App.net exactly?
Here’s the founder, Dalton Caldwell with a brief introduction:
Stop at 0:45: “If we’re selling a service, our customers are our users, and our job is to make our users happy. If we have a free ad-supported service, our customers are our advertisers, and our job is to make our advertisers happy.”
A succinct observation of the central paradox that maligns every ad-supported service: being free essentially means aligning yourself to advertiser interest.
The great internet promise of free, fair and everywhere is subverted by monetary interests.
I’ve never been convinced with the free argument. A consumer must be willing to pay for better service. If he is not, you either have the wrong customers, or you are in the wrong business. Twitter is a great idea, but it is clear to any long term user that advertiser interests invariably find their way into user social feeds. App.net is out to change that, and I can’t help but applaud the audacity of the effort.
What I applaud even more is the general direction in which the internet is moving: a pay-for-quality model. I subscribe to the NYTimes even though I live 6000 miles from New York. I subscribe because I enjoy the writing and the journalism. I can get the same news from a hundred other free sources, but I probably won’t get it as well packaged and as well written as the NYT. I don’t see why this philosophy shouldn’t be extended to social feeds, or even social networking for that matter.
App.net is an exciting experiment. If it succeeds, it may very well change the fabric of the internet. If people are willing to pay for a Twitter-competitor, they might very well start paying for a better social networking site, a better social gaming experience, and heck, even a better search engine. The possibilities are endless, and I’m cheering on.
P.S.: Andrew Chen’s article on App.net provides a few good answers to ‘Why should I care about a Twitter-competitor’