Described as “a real-time social network without the ads,” App.net (ADN) sucked me in despite its entry fee. All users either pay a monthly ($5) or yearly ($36) fee, depending on their choosing, and I spent some time wondering who would do such a thing to have access to something that, via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., was provided freely.
After thinking about it, though, and setting it in the context of my own experiences working for a startup, it starts to make a little more sense. The networks above can provide a product or service for free, but they’re also at full liberty to change the way items show up in followers’ feeds, how developers can utilize their API, whether they can utilize an API at all -this article mentions ADN founder, by the way -, or advertise at will (… I couldn’t just pick one link because you see this in a lot of places). I completely get it that it’s their right and really, in their best interests to provide a product or service and expect to recoup some gains as a result. Servers cost money, after all.
So why pay to access a social network?