Two experiments that App.net should have performed
It's no secret that App.net is not doing so well, this week App.net announced that there will be no permanent staff to develop the platform. However, the platform will continue to operate, funded by paid subscriptions.
The Accidental Tech Podcast discussed this latest evolvement of App.net at length, and also discussed some of the many experiments that App.net has performed in it's lifetime.
Starting out in 2012 — positioned as a Twitter competitor that relied on user payments rather than advertising — App.net experimented by changing the post length limit to 256 characters, as oppose to Twitter's 140 characters.
In an attempt to grow the platform, a lot of other experiments was performed.
App.net experimented with product pricing, having $50/yr member subscriptions in the beginning, which they after a few months dropped down to $36/yr and also introduced a $5 monthly plan. A year after they introduced the free tier. First they experimented with the free tier being limited by invitation only, and limiting the number of people a free account could subscribe to. The invitation only limit was later removed.
Some of the other things that App.net experimented with:
- extending the messaging service to include file hosting,
- spending $20k monthly on a developer incentive program,
- Broadcast, a push notification system,
- Backer, a platform for making independent crowdfunding campaigns.
I only used App.net for a very short time, so I won't judge the value gained from all these experiments. But, I will suggest two experiments that I think could have been successful to grow the App.net platform:
Instead of App.net developing their own cloud storage service, they should have teamed up with Dropbox, which is already a well known consumer facing cloud storage provider that doesn't have a social network.
I believe that both Dropbox and App.net would have benefitted from such a partnership, cross promoting their services to each others audiences.
Instead of having the free tier limit be the number of people a free account can subscribe to, they should limit the number of paid account followers a free account can have.
If you, as an owner of a free account, would like to have more than (say) 40 followers with paid accounts, you'll have to pay the subscription fee.
This concept could be expanded, so that very popular accounts with more than (say) 1000 subscribers with paid accounts, would pay a higher subscription fee.