Does anyone remember App.net? If you don’t, it’s a subscription-based social feed and API, that raised over $500,000 on Kickstarter this past summer. The idea behind the service is that people will want to pay to use a social service that has their best interests at heart and isn’t “controlled” by advertisers. It sounds like a solid idea, so how’s that going for App.net?
Well, it might not be going that great, at least according to some website traffic reporting services. Now I understand that website traffic for App.net doesn’t matter in the same sense as it would for Twitter or Facebook in terms of its business model, since App.net isn’t ad supported. However, it does matter in the sense that if people aren’t using App.net, the likelihood that they will renew their subscription is much much lower, which as you can imagine could be very bad for the company.
While I’m not a huge fan of using Alexa’s traffic ranking system to determine how much traffic a site is getting, I have found that the overall upward or downward trend is typically correct. With that being said, it doesn’t look good for App.net. Take a look at the screenshot below of App.net’s traffic over the past six months, it’s pretty much spiraling down.
Even strong proponents of the service such as John Gruber are rarely posting on App.net. Prior to a post by Gruber approximately nine hours ago, his last post was 2 weeks old, and the one before that, 3 weeks old. It’s not just Gruber who isn’t posting that much, it’s a lot of people. Of the people who I follow on App.net, many of their posts on App.net are sporadic at best, days or weeks apart.
Additionally, one of the major App.net mobile apps, Netbot, an app created by Tapbots the same company behind the popular Twitter client, Tweetbot, recently made Netbot free in order to help spur App.net growth. But has it helped? It’s hard to say at this point, while the app is free, people still need to have paid App.net subscriptions in order to use the service and the app. We reached out to Tapbots to see if we could find out if Netbot downloads have increased since the app became free and will let you know when/if we hear back.
According to one website, App.net has over 32,000 users, but if people aren’t using the service, that means they aren’t getting value out of it. So despite the idea of a social service with your best interest at heart sounding like a good idea, it appears that people just want to be where their friends are, regardless of whatever Twitter’s ad-based business model is. Now, App.net still has some time to turn things around, after all, they earned over $500,000 from people who pre-paid for their subscription, so I’m sure there’s still cash in the bank. Nonetheless, you have to wonder if the downward traffic trend continues after one year, if the service will continue to be a viable platform. And what it really come down to depend on is the renewal rates for App.net.