I was an early adopter of the Pownce micro-blogging service, sending my first Pownce post on 22nd January 2008. As you can see from the accompanying image I was interested in how Pownce differed from Twitter. After discovering that Pownce provided richer functionality than Twitter I then realised that in order for Pownce to provide a useful tool for me I needed to build a community of Pownce users.
But that’s where Pownce failed. Despite the functionality it provided it never caught on, whereas Twitter went from strength to strength. And tomorrow (15th December 2008) Pownce will close. What, then, are the lessons to be learnt? I’d suggest there is a simple lesson which the development community should reflect on – the most important aspect of a social networking service is the community of users. And it doesn’t matter how great the development methodologies are, how interoperable the standards may be, how widely accessible the interface is – if you aren’t successful in attracting a sustainable user community the servicew will fail. Just as Pownce failed.