By Any Other Name: App.net Name Review
Do you remember the world before Twitter? Do you know that there are actually competitors to Twitter, like FriendFeed? Not that anyone uses them, of course. Twitter has become such an overwhelming presence in online media that it’s hard to imagine a world without it – or indeed, what might replace it.
But that may soon become reality. Twitter has recently begun to clamp down on the third-party apps that allow you to connect to it; in short, it wants you to stop using Twitter apps not made by Twitter. Many feel that this signals the move towards a walled garden, and will severely limit Twitter’s usability. Will people feel constrained, and rebel? Or will they embrace the exclusivity, as is the case with Apple? Only time will tell if it’s is enough to drive users into the arms of another provider, like App.net.
Haven’t heard of them? Don’t feel bad, most people haven’t. As of right now, it has only 12,000 users (as opposed to Twitter’s 140 million). It’s open source, and it’s aimed mostly at the developers who are disillusioned with Twitter, although many more people are queueing up with $50 for a yearly membership (with no advertising). It’s almost like it’s been developed by engineers, for engineers!
And the name bears that out. It follows all the rules we naming gurus here at Catchword preach to our clients about descriptive names: clear, to the point, short, non-branded. What does App.net sound like? Maybe a website where you go to create and download apps? The fact that it’s a .net domain, rather than a .com domain, only ups the geek factor, although I must say I’m impressed that they got it. (App.com is owned by the Asbury Park Press – now there’s some forward thinking for you!)
As descriptive as it is, App.net isn’t really a consumer-friendly name. Most people will likely have a hard time remembering the “.net”; and the name as a whole is so generic that it just doesn’t stick in the way that a fun, friendly name like Twitter does. It doesn’t say communication, or social platform, or sharing, or a way to waste your Saturday afternoon with friends in Europe discussing your favorite type of pasta. (That’s what Twitter is for, right?)
But as we naming gurus also say, a bad name won’t kill a great product, and if App.net wins the beatdown against Twitter, the name won’t matter so much. But please, guys, give us a shot at renaming your service!
Overall Name Grade: C