Once seen as an ambitious project with the potential to overtake Twitter, App.net has finally released an official announcement that they’re shutting down. When it was first launched, App.net was intended to be a website where developers could show off their applications. However, the focus of the new online service soon changed after Mixed Media Labs, the company behind the App.net project, wanted to try something more ambitious.
App.net was transformed into a social microblogging service that let users share messages of up to 256 characters, with a design that is very similar to Twitter. One difference is that App.net was ad-free, with the owners believing that they could generate enough revenue through subscriptions from users and developers. The project was funded by a highly successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $750,000 in pledges.
While the microblogging service was highly similar to Twitter in functionality, it brought a unique approach to social media. App.net would only provide the basic framework for the service to work, while encouraging independent developers to create their own applications that would work with the social platform. To make the service more accessible to all users in the beginning, a simple web-based interface named Alpha was provided.
Despite the innovative concept, the social platform ran into the same problem Twitter is now trying very hard to solve: it just wouldn’t make any money. CEO Dalton Caldwell and Co-Founder Bryan Berg tried various approaches, including a free trial program and a switch to a freemium model in 2013. Unfortunately, despite attracting over 100,000 users by the end of 2013, App.net still couldn’t bring in enough funds to pay for a full-time development team, resulting in the service being put in “maintenance only” mode on May 6, 2014.
In an official announcement posted on the App.net blog, the two founders informed users that they have until March 14, 2017 to export their data, after which it will be deleted. The code powering App.net was made open-source and is now available on GitHub.