When Dalton Caldwell launched App.net (aka ADN) in August, to the naked eye it appeared to be a clone of Twitter with the twist that users had to pay for the privilege. The service has attracted 32,000 users in those six months, heavily weighted towards developers and tech insiders. But the fact that App.net has started as a niche product belies the much more expansive vision that is behind the service.
The starting point of this agile enterprise was to build a very rudimentary micro-blogging platform, similar to Twitter. The client that ADN itself build, called “Alpha,” was pretty bare bones, but the APIs that made it tick were accessible to anyone with a developer account. And, indeed, in that same six months, these developers created more than 100 apps for the platform, including mobile clients for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone and Symbian, desktop apps for Mac, Windows and Linux and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. One app, Tweeter, even “quietly slips App.net posts into your Twitter stream, for those of us who are still kicking the habit.” Caldwell is proud to say that the app created per user ration on App.net is unprecedented.