Pownce, Exit Here.

While, I wasn’t kind to Pownce a year ago, twice even. There are many unfortunate things about the shuttering of Pownce.

Halfway down the list is making the mistaken assumption that the same shuttering couldn’t happen to Twitter (or any other centralized, free, web service). Remember Evan sold Blogger to Google 6 years ago – before Blogger had a sustained, cash flow positive, revenue model.

Something about leopards and spots.

If Pownce was a publicly traded company that just closed up shop – the price of Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed would have just tanked (then again, I’ve been shorting ‘social networks’ for a year).

Perhaps Pownce’s greatest success was simply all the press and publicity it got. For a service around for maaaaayyybe 24 months – much enk was spilled.

So congrats to Leah – on a successful exit.

Oh, and Leah, perhaps you could join us for a MinneDemo or MinneBar?

Pownce.com – In Need of a Special Purpose

Pownce.com feels like the bastard child of Basecamp and MySpace. Four kinds of things (messages, links, files, events) all going into the same bucket. No tagging or grouping or other categorization – aside from the information type, all sent out to everyone as email notifications not including the message. Just a link back to the site. Awful.

Admittedly, I didn’t get Twitter when it was first released either. Even today, I’m pretty sure I don’t use Twitter the way it was intended. Nor do I think anyone does – who can afford the SMS charges ;).

To grok Twitter, I needed to see how it folded into what I’m already doing. Twitter clicked for me as a republishing tool. A way to know who is actually interested in reading what I write 1. This required Twitter to open up an API early. Pownce doesn’t want to work with me, it wants to completely replace what I’m doing currently. I’m too busy to play that game.

Without an API 2, finding its special purpose is going to be more of a challenge for Pownce. I’m less than optimistic, unlike Nik – I don’t assume the developers had a vision for the site. In fact, the only thing I think they have going for them is that they’re taking money – from both ‘Pro’ accounts and advertising. Huge applause. That might just buy them enough time to find their special purpose.

1. As soon as WordPress has something like this, buh bye Twitter.
2. While Pownce conceivably has enough of an API to run their highly undesirable AIR desktop app – they’re not sharing anymore than that. Right now, I’m not interested in installing AIR.

P.S. By contrast, I got Curbly and Nearbie immediately. They’ve both declared a purpose. They’re not just YASN.

Elsewhere:

“I’m still not sure if Pownce is supposed to be a Twittery microblogging site, a high-concept message board, or an IM client, but whatever it is, it’s meant for quick hits and rapid responses….Living in the application plane means that it doesn’t draw my attention when something important happens, and it just distracts me the rest of the time.” – Josh Lee

Aaron‘s got an interesting point on ubiquity. He’s right, having the only telephone among your friends isn’t that useful. I will change my mind – when Pownce is a service, not a site. Just like I change my mind about Twitter after Dave Winer released twitter.com/nytimes (for the record – a little after SXSW).

ELSEWHERE

“Yet another shiny object on the social network technology heap.” – Bex Huff