It’s a basic question, and everyone’s first question (about us anyway). We thought we’d take a moment to answer it, as simply as possible.
App.net is a subscription-based, advertising-free social network and API. It’s a platform that developers can rely on and that members can use to interact with each other.
App.net connects members’ feeds across clients built by third-party developers. Developers are free to build on our API – we’ll even send you a monthly payment, if your app is well-received – which means that members have a variety of apps to choose from to access the network.
Most of the larger press outlets have focused on App.net as an ad-free social network. We take this pledge very seriously: we will never sell user data to advertisers, never turn users into the product. Our paid model aligns our interests with our users. Still, while that is very much what we are – a cornerstone of our company – it’s only part of our story.
From the beginning, we pledged to keep our API open to developers acting in good faith – a bold promise, but one we hold dear. This means that developers can trust that we’re not going anywhere and that they can reliably build apps on our platform.
Developers have already built great mobile, desktop, and web apps (full list in our App Directory), with more projects starting each day. We want developers to be inspired. We want games, we want clients with richer features, we want to be surprised. Each new App.net app makes our site better, gives our users more options, and turns our service into something different.
And this is the real story. App.net is an API. Alpha, launched during our fundraising campaign, is just a web app written on top of our API. Now, nearly three weeks after we reached our funding goal, under 50% of the posts on App.net come from our Alpha, according to App.net Stats (a real-time analytics dashboard built by @clint).
In the long run, App.net will become whatever apps developers build, and whatever apps members use. Each user might have a unique interpretation of what App.net is. That’s ok: this is one of the great benefits of an open API. It’s a living, breathing, multi-faceted thing with a sum that’s greater than its parts.
So remember this: at its core, App.net is an ad-free, subscription-based platform, a backbone, a dialtone.