In July, the company will roll out three tiers of service - Ning Mini, Ning Plus and Ning Pro - and subscriptions will range from $3 to $50 per month. These new product packages include the following:
Ning Pro: Offers unlimited membership, full control over branding, multimedia options including music uploads and branded players, and advanced customization. Price: $49.95 per month or $ 499.95 per year.
Ning Mini: Offers access to Ning's core features including, blogs, photos, forums and video embeds, and the added ability to run custom advertising. Price: $2.95 per month or $19.95 per year.
In addition to ending their promotional links and advertising, Ning also announced they'd be replacing the Ning ID with a custom sign-in system, as well as support for Facebook Connect and Twitter authorization; adding new APIs to allow mobile and desktop application development; increasing sites' design flexibility; and adding enhanced reporting and analytics information. For those who are currently using the system but plan to move elsewhere, Ning will also offer a content migration tool.
"Our Network Creators are some of the most passionate and creative users of social networking technologies on the web, and by focusing on our three new product offerings, Ning will be able to extend the power and control we bring to our customers," said Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal.
The passion of Ning users was evident in the aftermath following the company's decision in April to end the free subscriptions. Many educators who found Ning to be particularly useful for both classroom communication and for professional development were worried about the impact Ning's decision would have on their networks, as well as on their limited budgets.
In response, Ning indicated today that K-12 educators would be able to continue to have access to free Nings, in the form of Ning Minis sponsored by an as-yet-unnamed educational company. While it's unclear at this time what kind of control that company will have over teachers' Nings and whether or not they will be able to market or message to their members, many teachers seemed cautiously optimistic about today's announcement and were happy that the company had responded to their outcry.
The website Free Technology Tools for Teacher noted that "Ning Mini won't replace the old free Ning accounts, but they should still be useable for classroom settings. Though with a cap of 150 members it probably won't be useable for building a community Ning around a whole school or PTA." And in a move that echoes what many users of Ning have been thinking, the website offered a link to a list of Ning alternatives.