App.net now has a free tier. You can now access the service if someone who’s paying for it sends you an invite, and you’ll then be able to follow up to 40 users and use 500 MB of storage.
I like the ideal behind App.net a lot. It’s an ad-free and open system on which to build apps. Alpha was the first, a Twitter-like microblogging service without the increasing bloat Twitter keeps welding to itself. In its current form, Alpha reminds me of the Twitter of old, but in being so it also lacks the richness in terms of diversity and varied communities that Twitter enjoys.
I’m also increasingly wondering, from a personal standpoint, what the point is of App.net. When I stop using Twitter, I miss it. This is in part due to being a freelancer working alone in a home office; Twitter is my place to discuss things with people and to find out about what’s going on in the world. App.net… I’m not really sure what that is. I guess it’s a bit like Twitter after some kind of armageddon-style disaster after which some of the techies survive. It’s a lot quieter, quite a lot geekier, and regularly has an echo. Then there’s also the file-storage aspect, but, you know, Dropbox. And CrashPlan.
Still, when I offered up my invites on Twitter earlier, they all went in seconds, and so there’s clearly an interest in App.net. People are curious. Whether that curiosity results in permanent growth of the service or a lot of people going “now what?” remains to be seen.