App.net, caused quite a splash when it launched in 2012, with its ad-free, subscription-genereated revenue model causing waves in the industry, at a time when many were worried about Twitter's increasing reliance on advertising to make money. However, the founders announced today that the service will be shutting down on 14 March, with user signups suspended immediately.
App.net was essentially a Twitter clone - users could write 256 characters posts and follow other users to see their updates. The idea behind it was to have users and developers pay to use the service, instead of adverts, meaning the service was completely ad-free. When App.net launched, it exceeded expectations for both users and developers (we even included it with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ in 2013), but it soon died down and was not able to keep up its initial popularity, fading back into relative obscurity. Paid plans gave users the chance to invite others to a free user tier, but with user subscriptions very low, the service went into a self-imposed 'maintenance mode' in May 2014, in order to preserve the remaining funds and figure out a way to keep going. However, the company has been unable to do this - revenue has been steadily decreasing since then - and so is shutting down. The climate it launched in was shifting from Twitter, which was transitioning from a cool, free service to something that had to start making money. As such, Twitter was clamping down on third-party applications, forcing developers to use a different API from the first-party, official Twitter apps. In light of this, it is easy to see why many flocked to App.net, which encouraged users to use third-pary apps thinking that it was 'the next big thing.' Alas, it was not.
The service will close for good on 14 March. Signups have been immediately restricted, as have user subscriptions. Data can be exported until the shutdown date, at which point the service's source code will be uploaded to GitHub, ensuring at least something of a legacy for its creators.
- App.net blog