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Twitter Competitor App.net Goes ‘Freemium’

Remember when you had to get invited to gmail? It was THE email to have for a short period of time because of that little marketing gimmick. And then folks were given limitless invitations and snagging access wasn’t quite so special any more.

Well, App.net – or ADN as the cool kids call it – is now doing something similar, with the same goal in mind: ratcheting up its desirability and giving membership a boost.

But will it work?

So ADN access was initially $50 for a year-long membership and then the cost was reduced to (the curious amount of) $36. Those of us who joined, made $14 (those of us not very good at things mathematical, that is).

When ADN came out last year, we shared founder Dalton Caldwell’s logic behind creating the service. He felt that dissatisfaction with Twitter stemmed from its FREE ad-supported business model:

“If we’re selling a service [as App.net plans to do], our customers are our service and our job is to make our users happy.” But with a FREE ad-supported service [read: Twitter/Facebook] “our customers are advertisers and our job is to make advertisers happy.”

And today this happened:

Although App.net has had only paid account tiers thus far, we initially conceived of  App.net as a freemium service. It took some time to get to this point, but we are now ready to make this vision a reality.

And then they share some background where they basically say “hey, we compared ourselves to Github and Dropbox and THEY are freemium platforms, so of course we always planned to be freemium as well. Of course.”

But here it is in Caldwell’s words:

It’s worth quoting the initial App.net announcement to remember that Github and Dropbox were explicitly cited as models for the (then hypothetical) App.net platform. Both of those services are “freemium”, i.e. they have both free and paid tiers of service. The fact that the App.net announcement argued that these freemium services are better aligned with the interests of users than ad-supported ones are was not an accident.

But they also mentioned IFTTT and THAT is entirely free, isn’t it? Hmm. Maybe they’re keeping that “obvious” connection for a future announcement?

Either way, methinks ADN protests too much (meaning: I call bullshit on the “freemium” over-explanation claiming this was always part of its master plan), but I’m only an occasional ADNer so what do I know?

Chime in with your own unsupported opinion in the comments!

But seriously, if they had planned to go Freemium all along, why did they offer a one-month free trial to “invited users” back in November?

It’s okay to grow and change – but revising history does little more than bug people.

And finally, understand that those who pay for an account have very few invitations available. I started out with three. Please don’t spam the comments asking for an invitation as I only have two left to give and my brother has dibs on one. And I plan to taunt people with the other.

Do you think this change will help ADN long-term or hurt it? And don’t you wish you had an invitation?

(Free image from Shutterstock)

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