The Tapbots App.net post announcing the Netbot sale says it’s “[I]n order to spur adoption of App.Net.”
Netbot was born out of Tapbots’ beloved Twitter client, Tweetbot, and anyone who uses that app will quickly get used to Netbot. For those who haven’t used Tweetbot, just trust that Tapbots is a top-shelf iOS shop and makes apps that feel good and make sense. If you’ve wanted to try out App.net, this is the app with which to do it.
In fact, it was when Tapbots announced their App.net client that much of the tech world started to take App.net seriously. App.net is betting that a paid-for social infrastructure will give rise to a vast field of great apps that have sustainable businesses. That plan needs buy-in from big-name developers.
When Tapbots joined the service, things got interesting. The app caused a huge spike in attention when it first appeared for $4.99. But App.net’s adoption hasn’t been as swift as the Tapbots duo, programmer Paul Haddad and designer Mark Jardine, had hoped. As Haddad confirmed on Twitter, going free means that Tapbots stands to make more money from the App.net Developer Incentive Program, which doles out over $20,000 per month to ADN developers based on user satisfaction ratings. That must be a better deal than app sales at this point.
But App.net announced this week that paid users will now get 10GB of cloud storage behind their accounts, which app developers can put to any use they can dream up. Not only does that mean more powerful applications can be built, it means that now App.net can build the same kind of freemium revenue model as services like Dropbox and Evernote use. If paying for the service gets you the storage space, App.net can give away the Twitter-like messaging features for free.
Paid-only adoption of App.net hasn’t lived up to these bigtime developers’ expectations. But if the service becomes free for messaging-only users, that could easily change.