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Pownce is dead

Six Apart have bought the talent behind Pownce and are closing the service down on December the 15th. Why? Who cares. The point is, when the lights go off at Pownce, a little more of the choice we have goes with it…

Pownce logoSix Apart have bought the talent behind Pownce and are closing the service down on December the 15th. Why? Who cares. The point is, when the lights go off at Pownce, a little more of the choice we have goes with it…

“We’re bittersweet about shutting down the service but we believe we’ll come back with something much better in 2009.”

So why not just re-build Pownce, keeping the audience you already have? I’ll say this, they’ll have their work cut out getting the same people from Pownce to sign up to whatever they code over at Six Apart.

For those that are head-locked into thinking like a tabloid headline writer, claiming that “yet another Twitter clone” is dead, they’re merely highlighting their own ignorance, as well as their astonishing lack of knowledge.

Then there are those who say: “So what?” or: “What’s the point of mourning Pownce?” Pownce becomes a side issue to what we’re really mourning — which is genuine choice.

The reason for Pownce not taking off in the same way that Twitter did is a topic of discussion unto itself. But part of the reason is that the guys behind Pownce didn’t act as quickly or as appropriately as they could have. Here I’m thinking about the long time it took for them to release their API, which severely limited the true potential of Pownce.

Pownce eclipses Twitter in terms of utility and functionality. And as I’ve said before, Pownce is a micro-blogging platform where Twitter is simply a status update utility — do not get the two confused. There’s a whole chasm of difference between Pownce and Twitter.

In addition to mourning choice, we’re also inching closer to the featureless, the faceless and the facile at the expense of the function.

Do we throw the adjustable spanner away and just use the screw driver because it’s simpler? No, you use the tools that best suit the job, which Pownce did admirably.

But the success of most things on the web these days is decided by any so-called “A-list” blogger who happens to glance at any new and say (or write on their blog), something to the effect of: “Oooh, shiney!” And everyone else rushes in, regardless of the merits of said software.

Which is a shame. And that is sort of the back story to Pownce (the decline thereof) and Twitter (the success thereof)…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

5 replies on “Pownce is dead”

I used Pownce briefly, and actually ended up prefering the simplicity of Twitter. I even *like* the lack of features – just look at how many small services have popped up to fill the gaps: Twitterfeed, TwitPic, TweetLater, TweetCube, (the former) Summize … the list goes on. Most of it’s rubbish, but some of it is really handy – and none of it clutters up the simplicity of Twitter.

Anyway, to the point, Pownce has no-one else to blame for its faliure. It’s either a side-effect of people largely not wanting what it offered, not knowing about it in the first place, or it’s another victim of the economy.

As a platform, I much preferred Pownce. The group features (which Twitter is still looking to implement) were excellent, as was its ability to handle images and other files.

For me the issue was audience. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get the folks I knew there to use it.

Foomandoonian, you’re right. Pownce really didn’t help themselves. Certainly not when they really needed to.

Scott, I loved the different options, which is why I can’t understand the complexity argument, since a lot of people who use Twitter also use FriendFeed, and look at the options there.

Mark, I think the question has been asked, but it’s worth asking again until Kevin gives us an answer…

I think you are right that you cannot shut down a product or a service and lose that customer base, then come back brightly, months later, and expect to reclaim those customers.

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