Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

App.net and Micro.blog

Dalton Caldwell, cofounder of App.net:

In May of 2014, App.net entered maintenance mode. At that time we made the difficult decision to put App.net into autopilot mode in an effort to preserve funds and to give it ample time to bake. Since then every dollar App.net has charged has gone towards paying for the hosting and services needed to keep the site running. Unfortunately, revenue has consistently diminished over the past 2+ years, and we have been unable to return the service to active development.

We will be shutting down the App.net service on March 14, 2017. We are immediately turning off new signups and any pending subscription renewals. We are also going to open-source the code behind App.net on our GitHub page. You will have until the shutdown date to export your data. At that time, all user data will be deleted.

I’m surprised that App.net lasted as long as it did in “maintenance mode”, but this news isn’t exactly shocking. Even its most ardent users — by which I mean any user who has regularly opened the site in the past two years — saw this coming.

App.net’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Manton Reece launched a Kickstarter campaign for his in-development Twitter alternative Micro.blog. Reece’s campaign is off to a flying start, but I wouldn’t blame you for having lingering doubts about its future. The biggest difference between App.net and Micro.blog is that the latter can be self-hosted, and is entirely decentralized. If Reece were to stop development of Micro.blog in ten years, existing installations would continue to work as long as the programming languages that power it remain compatible.

Because of that, I think Micro.blog can have a future where App.net couldn’t. There’s less requirement for mass adoption. I hope it works out.