You’ve likely already heard of App.net, the new paid social network that’s similar to Twitter, yet more developer friendly. App.net is something that I was cautious about trying. After all, a subscription is $36 a year. I wrestle with giving up any money on a monthly or annual basis, especially for a service that I don’t know will continue to be around.
That being said, I’m past my worrying. ADN is going to be here for a while, and I think there’s never been a better time to join (perhaps with the free accounts we’re giving away below). Here’s why.
The Big Deals
Passport and Free Tiers
Earlier this year, ADN made some waves when it announced a free tier. The free tier, as announced here, provides users with 500 MB of file storage (instead of the usual 10 GB) and file uploads with a maximum size of 10 MB/file. Most people I know think that’s actually very generous. The only real limitation for most people will be a maximum of 40 accounts you can follow.
Of course, this is basically a “freemium” model that we’ve seen before with many different services. That being said, I like ADN’s interpretation of it. If you surpass your follow limit, upgrading your account makes sense. You have nothing to lose by trying the free account, and if you find you end up using the service a lot, you might feel more inclined to pay for it.
To get access to a free account, you’ll either need an invite from a paid subscriber or, if you have an iPhone, the App.net Passport app. Passport is free in the App Store, and well worth downloading for the free account access (but for now, you’ll still have to use a web browser to upgrade your account). We’ve been told Passport will be coming to Android soon. It also allows you to manage apps and explore the ADN’s app directory without ever opening a web browser. In fact, speaking of apps…
At this point, there are well over 100 third-party apps for ADN. Alpha, the web app, is great, but third-party clients often use ADN’s API in really fantastic ways. The Patter web service and app turns ADN into a private chatroom on the web or mobile devices. Mac apps like Swing and Filebase turn ADN’s file storage into a Dropbox-like tool for collaboration.
The apps become more interesting if you have a paid ADN membership. Access to 10 GB of storage makes Swing or Filebase much more powerful than a basic Dropbox account, and at that point the social network is the icing on the cake.
The app ecosystem surrounding ADN is burgeoning. Every week, I see cool new apps pop up that I want an excuse to try out. It’s very reminiscent of Twitter’s early days, before the serve turned against its developers. I honestly can’t think of a more exciting platform to be watching right now.
The Small Things That Matter
Developers can’t seem to think of a more exciting platform right now either. Who can blame them? App.net now has more than 100,000 users. Granted, it’s not likely that all of them are active users, but that’s a huge milestone. It also means it makes more sense to develop an app for ADN than it does to develop an app for Twitter, in some ways.
Twitter places a cap of 100,000 users on every third-party client. Since there are more than 100,000 users on ADN, it’s possible for a developer to make more money by developing for ADN than Twitter. That’s a really important touchstone in both user and developer adoption; in fact, ADN says they’ve now reached the critical mass for success.
If there are more users and more apps for them, then ADN’s future is bright. App.net isn’t interested in building a native client; it’s interested in supporting the developer and user community by creating a smart, sophisticated service for people who are interested in paying for the things they love.
And as it turns out, people who are interested in a service like this are uniformly friendly. There’s never a shortage of great conversation on ADN. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to whichever party’s got the coolest people in attendance.
The people behind ADN are interested in making sure it continues to be easy for developers to adopt the network and build something. They’re always working on bettering the API, and as they further open up their service to developers, developers can continue making their apps more powerful. It’s the opposite of a hostile developer environment.
ADN is also interested in protecting its users. They want to make sure their users stay up-to-date on what powers the apps have and how to protect their privacy.
The way that ADN is developing, it’s easy to see how apps have become more powerful as the service has developed. I’m blown away by how far the apps have come since last August. You could get a lot of what App.net offers with Twitter, but the quality control and the user experience is already worlds ahead on ADN.
Beyond that, the folks behind ADN are promising to be an incredibly robust service by the service’s first anniversary. For what it’s worth, not only do I believe them, but I can see it happening already.
Breaking It Down
So why should you join ADN? Why should you download the Passport app on your iPhone or go scouring the Web for a free invite? Quite simply, because the service is getting better every day. There are more users, more apps and more long-term potential. What’s already available is worth exploring and worth trying.
In the case of ADN, there’s nothing to lose with a free account. If you hate it, you can always get rid of it. But I don’t think you will. In fact, I think you’ll find App.net is one of the most exciting platforms on the web. Now is the perfect time to get started with it.
In fact, if you don’t have an account, we want to get you involved in our conversations; after all, Web.AppStorm is on App.net too at @webappstorm. Best of all, we’ve got free invites to App.net for our readers. Just signup at this link, and you’ll get a free App.net account on us. What more could you want?
Now, just tell us how you’ll be using your new App.net account on App.net, or in the comments below.see you there!
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