App.net, the Dalton Caldwell startup that pivoted from being essentially an About.me for apps, and towards being a pay-for-use Twitter alternative, today got a big boost on the software side thanks to the introduction of Netbot by Tapbots. Netbot, as any Tapbots fan will likely immediately recognize, is essentially a modified version of Tweetbot for iPhone and iPad, but one that works with the fledgling App.net social network instead.
It might look on the surface like a clear sign from the makers of Tweetbot that they aren’t entirely comfortable with Twitter’s changing rules for developers but Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad said in an interview that developing Netbot “isn’t so much of a direct response” to Twitter’s rule changes as it is an embracing of the values Caldwell’s network promotes.
“We like the network, we like where they’re going, where they’re kind of keeping this old-school, short post type of network, vs. the more rich type of experience with cards and such that Twitter seems to be pushing,’ Haddad told me. “And obviously, with the API restrictions, we definitely want to have something else for people who like that type of streamlined experience focused just on posting and talking to other people.”
The restrictions are definitely something that the Tapbots team is thinking about in terms of the Tweetbot Mac app, which the company submitted today for review to Apple. If all goes well, it should appear in the Mac App Store soon, at a price that for now, remains undisclosed. Specifically, user limits (100,000, or two times the existing user base for an app), and how they’ll affect the desktop application are on Haddad’s mind.
“For iOS, there’s no danger of hitting that anytime soon,” he said “For Mac, it’s really hard to tell. It’s definitely a lower limit, but then there’s going to be fewer users as well. We’ve never really been keeping track of user tokens before this, so we know how many we had as part of the beta test, but we don’t know how many of those are going to buy the app, and we don’t know how many new users are going to buy the app. We’re a bit concerned but there’s not really much we can do about it at this point.”
As for whether App.net will likewise get a desktop app, Haddad says that’s still up in the air, but the company will be looking at how iOS adoption goes over the next few weeks, and also at how the Mac app is faring in order to make a judgement on that front. The good news is that a lot of the resources that go into Tapbots’ Twitter apps can also be used toward App.net products, so development costs and effort are relatively small by comparison to creating a brand new client from scratch. “The thing that took most of the time between when we decided to develop Netbot and when we finally submitted it to Apple and got it released was getting all the API pieces in place over on the App.net side,” Haddad explained.
Netbot’s release timing, arriving just after a price drop was announced for App.net subscriptions, wasn’t entirely coincidental, Haddad admits. That, combined with the splashy release today means Tweetbot might actually find itself in the reverse position it’s used to with Tweetbot – providing high-profile exposure and new users for a social network, instead of simply offering a better alternative for an established network’s existing audience.