Alongside the sorry tales of iPhones not being activated due to AT&T being overwhelmed by demand, the web worker world has been aflutter this past weekend with news of Pownce, the new social attention app from Megatechtronium (Digg’s Kevin Rose and some of his pals). There’s […]

Pownce logoAlongside the sorry tales of iPhones not being activated due to AT&T being overwhelmed by demand, the web worker world has been aflutter this past weekend with news of Pownce, the new social attention app from Megatechtronium (Digg’s Kevin Rose and some of his pals). There’s been a storm of activity as the blog- and Twittersphere came alive with the launch news and people sought invites to the beta.

I’ve checked out Pownce, and while it seems to offer benefits over Twitter and it’s snail’s-pace release cycle, it may not live up to the buzz in the long term. Let’s take a look at a few features.


On the surface, Pownce looks very much like a Twitter clone with the combination of a sexy AJAX-powered browser interface and desktop app not unlike Twitteriffic. The desktop interface is a particularly cool technology implementation, running on Adobe’s AIR platform. Like Twitter, you have the ability to send both public and private messages. One benefit offered by Pownce is that messages are threaded, with the notion of replies built in, rather than evolving as the @someone usage did on Twitter.

Pownce offers the ability to specifically send a link. The link is combined with a small message. This is very similar to the functionality in Twitter that leverages TinyURL and not really a differentiating feature.

File sharing is where Pownce starts differentiating significantly from Twitter. You can send files of any sort, but it’s not immediately apparent just how large those files can be. I’m not sure how often I would do this. There are probably better ways to share files.

The final major feature of Pownce is events. It’s not really apparent how this will work yet and some tests done with friends didn’t reveal any “wow” moments. It does use microformats, so you could probably hook it into a calendar app if you wanted.

The ads on Pownce may annoy people. At present, they seem infrequent and they appear in your general conversation stream. To get rid of them, there’s a US$20/year premium to be paid. A Premium membership also allows you to send files of up to 100Mb. Personally, I don’t think 20 bucks is coming out of my wallet.

While Pownce seems to offer a few benefits over Twitter, it’s really not markedly different and feels more like a bloated version of Twitter (perhaps the Pownce team forgot to read 37signals’ awesome Getting Real). A little competition is likely to get the Twitter folks to lift their game and improve stability (which has been good recently) and tweak functionality.

Pownce is missing two key features for a Web 2.0 app – feeds and an open API. Neither are currently available and make Pownce feel incomplete.

Ultimately, there will be a point where most folks will be either Twitterers or Powncers although there will be a group that use both. I’ve got so much invested in Twitter that I can’t see myself dropping it.

So, which camp are you? Twitter’s bluebird or Pownce’s pussycat? Or neither?

By Stephen Collins

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  1. it seems you have rss for public feeds, at http://www.pownce.com/feeds/public/YourUserNameHere.

    apart from that i find that not having sms integration is one of the main gripes i’m having with pownce.
    i guess i’ll stick to twitter or, if i need a change, jaiku seems a much better option…

  2. I’m not a Twitterer and I don’t think I’ll be a Powncer either. I just don’t have enough time to consider using either of these!

  3. While I’m not sold on Pownce one key feature that doesn’t seem to be listed is the ability to message specific groups of people.

    I see this as a team collaboration tool so that I can message my whole team at once with what I’m doing, or with a file or a link.

    I agree that without feeds and an API the service can’t go far, but that’s why it’s alpha.

  4. Well, I’m on pownce, but I can’t say that I’m initially in love with it. Among other things, I had problems uploading my user pic. It kept telling me that it had successfully uploaded and would show up any time now. Turns out it wasn’t actually working because I was using IE. Other sections of the site features state you need to use Firefox, etc, to make use of it. You’d think they’d make a note of that on something as basic as uploading one’s avatar. That lost a lot of love points for me right there.

    Adding friends is clunky. And I am beginnng to wonder just how many more times I’ll need to totally recreate my social network from scratch on yet another app. And without RSS, it’s pretty useless to me right now.

    Now, to be honest, it wasn’t love at first sight with Twitter, either. It wasn’t until I started building up my network and the explosion of conversations (and new twitterers) from SXSW that I truly grokked its usefulness as an app. But coming to Pownce having a feel for what I want in a social microblogging atmoshere, I still don’t know how active I’ll be there because I’ve already built something meaningful over at Twitter. I think the real question will be which way my network goes because admittedly without them, Twitter would become less useful.

  5. I’m still on the fence too.

    They both have similar features, and neither is a ‘X is a Y killer”

    Because I can’t make a decision, I’m looking for network recommendations.

    I started a list of reviews here


  6. I wish for some meta application which can handle:

    – my friends (most annoying to add them all again on every network)
    – my presence information
    – my geolocation maybe

    and so on.. Would be nice to reach most of my friends scattered around social networks with just one post and not 2-3.

    Right now I have no idea what I will end up with, Pownce is for me just 2 days old (although I already have 70 friends or so, goes quickly) but we will also see what stability says.. Features are maybe not that important anyway..

    My review is here btw: http://taotakashi.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/introducing-pownce-the-new-twitter/

  7. I think I am going to treat Pownce as an IM client and just restrict to friends. I can really see a use for it that way. I can’t have it as the mass “noise” that I have with Twitter. Maybe eventually it will replace it. Not now tho.

  8. I’d seriously be interested in learning about a good use of these tools because I can’t think of one. It just seems like so much communication about, well, nothing. Which was fine on Seinfeld because their version of nothing was hil-freakin-arious.

    Perhaps there are groups out there who have very interesting posts and/or compelling mini-stories and I just haven’t seen them, but the cynical side of me says it’ll still be so much “blah blah my cat is funny” and “blah blah waiting in line at Costco”. Neither of which seem compelling enough to me to use, much less pay for premium services.

  9. For me twitter is about getting closer to web celebs. It’s really fascinating to get a twitter from Robert Scoble saying he’s waiting in the iPhone queue… then another from Ross Mayfield saying ‘off to see Robert in the queue’… it’s like TV!

    Sure there’s noise. Just like TV. You tune into the channels you like and ignore the rest.

  10. [...] a review of Pownce by Web Worker, there was a challenge (not the first!) about the utility of Twitter, and Pownce, that seems to be [...]


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