Powncing on the Twitter bird… or not

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. [digg=http://digg.com/mods/Powncing_on_the_Twitter_bird_or_not]


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?

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