The alternative real-time communication platform App.net has been averaging roughly 30 new users a day for the month of September. Today, it gained over 1,000 new users on the back of lowered pricing and the release of the instantly popular new Netbot client for iOS.
The introduction of Netbot, by well-loved development studio Tapbots, has undeniably boosted the profile of App.net and the willingness of users to adopt the for-pay service as an additional channel of communication. Comments on the service from those who joined today, of which there were many, commonly hinged around the fact that a mobile client was an absolute must for them before they would adopt any new service.
When I conducted an informal poll, the responses varied. Some users, like Shawn King, said that they were not important, because they used mostly the desktop versions of the apps and others pointed to Alpha.app.net, the official alpha client which already worked on the web. Still others pointed to the recent price drop (you can see those numbers reflected as of October 1st). But the majority noted that a solid mobile app was at the very least a core impetus for them using the service more often.
“I think most of us joined before there were mobile apps, that said I was banking on some good ones. Wouldn’t have stopped me joining but a good mobile app definitely increases my usage.” - Gareth Jones
“It was everything. After Felix was released App.net started to go full steam ahead for me.” – Shillem Volpato
“Didn’t affect my decision to sign up, but in hindsight, it’s critically important to me using it as anything more than a curiosity.” – Richard Gaywood
“Not important. Essential. Actually, a deal-breaker.” – David Chartier
“I’m on my phone more than I’m ever at my computer. For me, it was really important. ” - Kyle Dreger
Notably, many respondents cited the release of Netbot as their primary reason for signing up.
Netbot isn’t the first mobile client to come along for App.net. I previously reviewed Rivr, which I found to be a very cool client for the service, with a unique way of handling media content. Felix is also popular and praised for its clean design. Hoohah is available for Android. And there are several desktop clients that rank in the top 10 list for clients, including Wedge and Mention.
But the importance of a marquee mobile client cannot be understated. The usage statistics speak for themselves:
App.net has pitched itself from the beginning as a platform that is developer-centric. It offers an incentive program that will pay developers a dividend based on user satisfaction with their apps every month. And it has a rapidly evolving API, with every feature open to every developer.
This has positioned it as a sort of anti-Twitter, as that company clamps down on developers of third-party clients, offering them less freedom and less access to its API as it moves to make itself into a profitable advertising and media company. Personally, I would urge people not to think of App.net as a Twitter replacement, because I think that it is something else and I think that its creators would agree. But that’s a topic for another day.
But you can’t deny that the adoption of the service by a developer like Tapbots, who is offering a rich and polished app that takes advantage of nearly every major component of the API, has lent it a boost. A truly great mobile client has become more integral to the uptake of an online service than ever. One might say indispensable.
It remains to be seen if the upwards trend will continue over the weeks ahead. But, at least for now, App.net has gotten a solid hand from exactly the kind of third-party clients Twitter is no longer interested in.
Also of note, Netbot is now #19 of the top 20 paid iPhone apps in the US App Store.