Update: We announced a few changes to the Developer Incentive Program on March 1, 2013.
Two important properties of a successful software platform are:
- A financially sustainable business model that can support both the platform and 3rd-party developers.
- Aligned financial incentives between the platform, users and developers.
History shows us that when these two properties are absent from a developer ecosystem, Bad Things can happen. It is because of these fundamental beliefs about what makes a social platform successful and sustainable that App.net was created.
We envision a developer ecosystem that supports a wide variety of applications, applications which look very different than alpha.app.net. For example, we expect to see App.net-enabled games (a simple chess app has already been created), group messaging, collaboration, and frankly things that we haven’t thought of.
As part of turning our words and ideas into concrete action, I am pleased to announce the App.net Developer Incentive Program. The goal of this program is to financially reward the development of great App.net applications.
We have spent a lot of time thinking about how to create a system that actually incents the creation of innovative, imaginative, and useful apps. This is easier said than done. For example, we can’t simply count the number of posts generated by an application because that wouldn’t accurately reflect how much value an App.net member feels they receive from the app. With this in mind, we are implementing a system that is driven by direct feedback from members.
How members will interact with the system
Once a month App.net members will receive an email asking them to give feedback on the App.net apps they have used that month. App.net will use some basic algorithms to put in “presets” as a proxy for how useful that particular app may have been to you. The member will then be free to move the sliders in any configuration that they wish. Once the ratings are finished, the member will submit the results which will be added into the Developer Incentive system and used to generate a “score” for each app.
- We will be disbursing at least $20,000 per month among eligible App.net developers. This program will commence on October 1.
- The monthly dollar amount will be allocated to participating developers based on their “scores” in relation to the total score among participating developers.
- Developers must apply and be accepted into the Incentive Program if they wish to participate. App.net will need to collect some additional information including tax and payment information before the developer will become eligible.
- This program is entirely optional, and developers should feel no pressure to participate if they are unable or uninterested in doing so.
- Developers are free to monetize their applications through their own mechanisms; this program should be thought of as a “bonus” for building software that App.net members use and love.
- It is important that users do not feel pressured, bullied, or guilted into providing feedback. Therefore, developers who attempt to influence the Incentive Program by directly soliciting votes from their users will be suspended from the program.
This is our first iteration of this program, and we expect to learn a lot during the process. We can commit to running this experiment and updating it as we learn over time. There is a very good chance we will make mistakes in our first implementations of this program, but we will do our best to keep it aligned with the interests of both developers and members. If we find that this program is successful in incentivizing great apps that App.net members love, we intend to continue to increase the monthly dollar amount as our userbase grows.
Attributes of a great App.net app
Rather than having a large number of “one-size-fits all” apps, we want to encourage developers to think about new and customized experiences across a wide variety of categories.
A great app will be inventive, simple to use, focused, opinionated, and, above all, built with the needs of users in mind. We’ve already seen a number of apps developed for the platform that are very impressive, and we look forward to seeing many more.