We wanted to build a pleasant out-of-the-box experience for new users. We have since introduced a 3rd-party app directory, dramatically improved our signup experience, and have constantly tweaked aspects of the service based on feedback.
Remember, a very short time ago App.net existed as an idea proposed in a blogpost… not a functioning service. As stated at the time, the goal of the backing period was to determine whether a paid market existed for our platform. Since there are numerous examples of freemium business models which didn’t succeed, we wanted to be very careful in our approach to pricing. We have been spending the past few months learning and analyzing data in order to come up with a plan for a sustainable and beneficial free tier.
The free tier does have some limitations — the free accounts are invite-only, you’ll only be able to follow a maximum of 40 users, and you will have limited access to the recently-launched file mechanisms. (But this will allow you the opportunity to try out some of the really cool third-party apps for the service, such as Felix and Riposte).
By the way, now’s a good time to point out that ShortFormBlog recently joined App.net and you should follow us.