Peety hooked me up with a coveted Pownce invite so I decided to check it out. Pownce is a good example of an app that are “born fully sprung” like the Greek Gods of ancient. No gestation, fermentation, or maturing. It’s just suddenly, “hello, keep the breast milk”. Pownce is obviously gunning for Twitter’s spot with finer grains of control and more options for sharing digital content.
As much as the Pownce design is eye-catching and the concept interesting, I think this is clearly the case of “creating a solution for a non-existant problem”. I wish Twitter had groups and finer controls for the social component but the only reason why I really use it is because I can ignore it or come back to it at will without having to catch up or get back to others despite the fact that it’s a social network and mini blog. That and Twitterific. Yeah, the API is important because without Twitterific I wouldn’t bother visiting Twitter’s homepage or kludging through the interface to post a comment through their form.
Twitter’s good for a quickie. Although the API is an integral part of it’s success I think the main reason why it stays popular despite the slowness of development is simply because there’s a low barrier to entry.
I think this is also the secret of Digg’s success. All you need to do is visit Digg for instant gratification. You do not need to register. However, you might see a witty comment on a submission you want to counter or add your own or even put a vote on a story you think is important. Then you might want to post stories and see them make the front page. The beauty of Digg is that there’s a gentle learning curve that accommodates a user’s progression from newbie to power submitter. With Twitter the learning curve is even flatter no matter what type of user.
The problem with Pownce is that you have this fully, sprung albeit nicely designed site that is mostly an image created from an ideal vision of the creators. It doesn’t fulfill a community’s need. This makes it difficult for an application to gain momentum since we all need to get used to the interface and come to grips with why we might find Pownce useful and figure out how to use it at the same time.
With Twitter you have a simple incentive to join (because it’s popular) and a zero learning curve. Although you may find it useless at first you don’t feel turned off by any perceived complexity. In fact, it’s so simplistic that you wonder “what the hell is all this fuss about?” If and when you do catch on you now have enthusiasm and passion to use it.
For Pownce, you need to master the application then convince friends to use it and maybe instruct them. See how making a “full-featured” app from the start kind of makes it hard for users to invite others? Twitter is a nice social application that connects you not only with friends but random people as well (if you set Twitters to public) so that’s another plus.
About the only thing I see in Pownce’s favor is Kevin Rose and the fantastic design. It may catch on but probably not instantly.