Pownce closes its doors for good

Leah Culver has announced the following news on the Pownce blog:

Pownce

We have some very big news today at Pownce. We will be closing the service and Mike and I, along with the Pownce technology, have joined Six Apart, the company behind such great blogging software as Movable Type, TypePad and Vox. We’re bittersweet about shutting down the service but we believe we’ll come back with something much better in 2009. We love the Pownce community and we will miss you all.


We’re very happy that Six Apart wants to invest in growing the vision that we the founders of Pownce believe so strongly in and we’re very excited to take our vision to all of Six Apart’s products. Mike and I have joined Six Apart as part of their engineering team and we’re looking forward to being a part of the talented group that has created amazing tools for blogging and publishing.


We’ll be closing down the main Pownce website two weeks from today, December 15th. Since we’d like for you to have access to all your Pownce messages, we’ve added an export function. Visit pownce.com/settings/export/ to generate your export file. You can then import your posts to other blogging services such as Vox, TypePad, or WordPress.

Am I surprised? No, not really.  While Pownce definitely had good technology that scaled really well, it never had the community or sheer number of users that other micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Jaiku (and to a lesser extent Identi.ca) managed.  Most folks I new that had accounts on there only ever syndicated their content from elsewhere, myself included.  Despite having some really big names in the management team (Leah Culver, Kevin Rose etc), it was just a little too late to the party, and the friends-only beta program didn’t let it get going fast enough.

I think that Six Apart have made a shrewd move in picking up the pieces, taking on the best staff and having the rights to use the technology in its blog platforms such as Vox and Movable Type.  I have been a user of Vox since it launched in beta about 4 years ago – it is a great place to host family blogs as it really helps with building communities of users and tracking other’s updates, and is very very easy to use (even my mother-in-law has a Vox blog!).  However, I can’t see many of the Pownce faithful moving there right away – many already have blogs, or if not, would rather have the flexibility of a WordPress or MovableType blog.

So what of the 140-character micro-blogging platform for the future?  Well, we all know about Twitter.  The first and definitely the best as far as I am concerned.  It’s the one that has grabbed the biggest community, millions of users, hundreds of API clients, hundreds of ‘me-too’ web utilities and so on.  It’s where the Lotus community seems to have now settled too.  There is no doubt that 3-6 months ago it had real technical difficulties, with scaling issues and the ‘fail-whale’ in regular attendance.  However, Twitter seems to be over the worst now and seems set to dominate for a while to come.

What of Jaiku? This was my first micro-blog, and it still has some very cool features.  However, Jaiku was acquired by Google on October 9th 2007 and was taken into private invite mode. Since then it has been migrated to the Google datacenters and work has been ongoing towards moving the service to the Google App Engine.  Thus far there hasn’t been much to suggest that Google is actually going to make much of the Jaiku service – 14 months down and not much has changed whilst Twitter has been riding off into the distance.  You can never write Google off, but they will have to pull a rabbit out of the bag this time.

Identi.ca? Still too early to tell… Launched in a blaze of hype back in the summer when Twitter was really suffering under the load, Identi.ca promises to be an Open Source alternative to the proprietry services.  However, functionality is still very limited and the community isn’t there yet. It will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on how it progresses from here, but I personally cannot see it Identi.ca making a huge dent in Twitter’s popularity.

So then, goodbye Pownce, I’m sad to say that I don’t think you’ll be missed…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!