App.net, the ad-free social network and blogging service, is a fascinating experiment in community-building when all outside influence has been stripped away. Limiting messages to 256 characters and relying an exclusive invite-only growth process, App.net has steadily become a destination for those looking to avoid the clutter of Twitter and Facebook.
Starting right now, ReadWrite users can join the network with a special invite for the first 500 people to click the link at the bottom of this post. The only caveat: you'll become a follower of our account.
What Is App.net?
Launched in August of last year, App.net was the second creation of Mixed Media Labs, an app-making company helmed by Dalton Caldwell that built an ill-fated Instagram competitor called picplz. App.net has been far more successful. The service, which initially relied on an annual subscription fee to avoid sticking advertisements in front of users, changed its pricing model when its user base far surpassed Caldwell's goal and hit 20,000 last October.
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Get In Free!
App.net now has an invite-only free model, which gives users 500MB of storage and the ability to follow up to 40 accounts. For $36 a year (down from $50 after an October price drop), users get 10GB of storage and the ability to follow an unlimited number of accounts. Inviting friends on the yearly member status also earns you more storage.
In early May, App.net brought down some of the barriers to its service with the launch of its iOS passport app. Put simply, App.net Passport lets users, for the first time, sign up for free without an invitation and tinker with some cosmetic features of their profile, but the app mainly serves as a way to discover the social network's growing list of cross-platform clients.
This wider sign-up reach may be temporary, Caldwell says. So for those without an iPhone looking to join App.net, remember to click the link below before the initial 500 invites run dry.