Why I’m not paying for App.net (yet)

In Blog by Alexander ForsénLeave a Comment

Elezea has made a well-nuanced comment in the wake of Google’s acquisition of Sparrow.

In short, the post above express that our intrinsic trust to companies are today related to the business model. I do also believe in the philosophy of not being a free user, if you want to be sure that the service a company offers will be around for a while and if you value what the company is delivering to you. Note that a business model based on the concept of a paying customer does not ensure that a company will deliver the value you want or need. You will certainly pay for your restaurant visit, but it is not certain that you will be happy with the food or the service.

Porter's Value Chain Model

Porter’s Value Chain Model: Borrowed image from Wikipedia licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Value Chain Model above suggest that every activity sums up a value to the end-product or service combined with support and primary activities (see figure). Consumers bought the software provided by Sparrow because they believed in the activities the company until recently executed. The difference between pre-Google and post-Google for Sparrow is the sudden halt of development, and it is one primary activity their customers highly valued.

There has recently been a paradigm shift in marketing about what customers really are. We are no longer consumers who only are expected to have the capacity to choose between finished products. We are now investosumers, consumers who also can contribute with time and money to help a company proceed with their primary and support activities to achieve its business objectives.

Kickstarter is an excellent platform for investosumers. I have invested in Remee (I’m still waiting for the product) and I’m expecting to have a product that has been presented to me through Youtube. If I have not been fooled.

App.net is a social platform that will be released and developed with the help of investosumers time (to give feedback) and money. The advantages are that it will be ad free and will try to do mistakes in a different way than Diaspora, to literally making the value chain model bilateral. The value of the activities will essentially not only flow from left to right in the model, it will also flow from right to left.

There are many questions that have arisen, matters beyond the business model and technical descriptions of what App.net will be. One crucial issue is if the activities from the company will suddenly halt, just like Sparrow. Or even worse, that App.net will not deliver anything all? App.net are asking us to act as an investor without the legal agreement and thus an investor without control. Even though we have not seen so much, not even a prototype, of the service they are trying to make.

I feel more compelled with the open source project FreedomBox:

We live in a world where our use of the network is mediated by organizations that often do not have our best interests at heart. By building software that does not rely on a central service, we can regain control and privacy. By keeping our data in our homes, we gain useful legal protections over it. By giving back power to the users over their networks and machines, we are returning the Internet to its intended peer-to-peer architecture.

In order to bring about the new network order, it is paramount that it is easy to convert to it. The hardware it runs on must be cheap. The software it runs on must be easy to install and administrate by anybody. It must be easy to transition from existing services.

There are a number of projects working to realize a future of distributed services; we aim to bring them all together in a convenient package.

The only necessary monetary transaction is the user’s purchase of the hardware to access the software. And the only one who can make the decision to close down a functioning social platform that runs the FreedomBox-software is the end user, who then unplugs the cord. In the case of App.net, there’s not the end user who decides if the cord should be pulled.

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