An app developer named Dalton Caldwell who claims that Facebook threatened to destroy his business isn’t just whining about it.He’s trying to launch a competitor to Facebook and Twitter’s communications platforms—but one that won’t ever take ads.
The new service is called App.net and he has raised nearly $119,000 in donations from nearly 1,600 people in about two weeks.
Unfortunately, his goal is $500,000 and his deadline is August 13. So the project is still firmly in we’ll-see territory.
Still, he has an interesting idea. Caldwell describes App.net as an information network broadly similar to Twitter with two key differences: It won’t take ads, and it will be a stable foundation for a whole bunch of other apps that can extend the service.
Twitter used to be much more friendly to outside developers before shutting down access to former partners like LinkedIn and Instagram—hence the interest in Caldwell’s friendlier solution.
Even if he raises the $500,000, there’s a long road ahead for App.net. Facebook and Twitter became so popular because they were free. Without a lot of users, a social media site just won’t make it. And even if it is free, it’s not easy to get people to switch networks—just ask Google, which first tried with Buzz and now with Google+.
Caldwell isn’t worried about lots of users though. He says that App.net only needs “to appeal to a relatively small number of highly committed members to create an interesting and financially sustainable business,” and “so we don’t need 1 million users—although that would be great!—we just need 10,000.”
Here’s a peek at what the service will look like that designer Ian Mintz posted on Dribbble, a social design-sharing site.