Pownce: What’s it about?

This morning, after a fairly long wait, I finally got my Pownce invite and like a kid who just got some candy, I went over to sign up. I had read up whatever (almost whatever) had been written about it since it’s closed Beta began and knew what to expect to a large extent. But there was one question I had since I first came to know about Pownce: What’s the point of it?

To my understanding, it combines the features of Twitter, your regular IM and social networking sites like Orkut or Facebook and adds a file-sharing angle to it. Whether it is an event that you want to announce (you can do that on Twitter), or add a link (you could use IM or your blog for that) or drop someone a message (um, IM?), there is little uniqueness to the features on Pownce. The filesharing is unique through the interface and method offered, but if you want to send it to someone particular, why not just email it? And if it’s for the public, well, blog it!

Having said all that above, there is good reason for this site to succeed. The negatives I list above could well be the very positives that make it work. Instead of blogging (never mind the ad revenue it may potentially bring you), just put up a file for users to download and add you message to it too. But how is this different from blogging? To take a line from what Robert Scoble recently said,

Something is happening over on Twitter/Jaiku/Pownce, though. That’s where the action is. Does it take away from blogging? No because IT IS blogging. Albeit 140 characters at a time.

The above may be a little out of context here, but the essence of the fact is that blogging is changing avatars and is no longer confined to the platform or format you use. Anything you may put up for public consumption can qualify as blogging. In that regard, Pownce does a great job of combining some of the most popular activities on the Internet in one place.

Pownce, coming from Digg.com co-founder Kevin Rose, does have a great deal of emphasis on ease of use. And it offers this without too much fuss. The interface is clean; sharing a message or link is as easy as copy-paste-submit-go! What you did over at del.icio.us, which had become cumbersome to share and manage, is now done here. How it handles itself when a user’s volumes start rising remains to be seen.

The desktop tool is an interesting addition. The download page at Pownce.com says that the tool can do everything that you can on the website. And it’s true. A file upload is painless and it didn’t bother with the fact that we uploaded a TIFF image! Thank god for that! And you can’t post files to the public. There are (at the moment) four themes to choose from for your account but we expect this to increase sooner than later. These kind of features do draw crowds and Pownce will certainly cash in on that.

Interestingly, though, everytime we tried to reply to a message through the window, it took us back to the site. We could post a new message to a friend or to the public, but not reply to a specific message through the desktop app. On the whole, if you are going to have a large user-group on Pownce and be an active user, it makes a whole lot of sense to get the desktop app.

Which brings us to our next question: Why should people port over to Pownce?

Isn’t is bad enough that one has to keep track of activities on Orkut and Facebook and manage the links on delicious while juggling at least a couple of IM accounts if not more? Then there’s email. You could say that another one of these won’t hurt, but the bigger question is will your entire contact list or at least a substantial part of it move to using Pownce among other things? Is the value proposition compelling enough? It would seem a Herculean task to get the few hundred contacts from Orkut and the like to move here, but it’s not impossible. Facebook has started eating into Orkut with some great features and Pownce may go that way too with developer tools. “Pownce on this” is not something that would shock most of us as a link if it were to crop up around the Internet.

While a lot of the public can’t still access Pownce (invitation only), the success or failure of it may not be decided too soon. I am, however, willing to let four more of you sample it (I have invites, you see!). Leave a comment and tell us me you want to try it out. If I like the response, I’ll invite you. But please add me as a friend!

P.S.: I was also thinking how Pownce may be verb-ised… Do you Pownce? Have you been Pownced? Let’s Pownce! Pownce me! (oops!) Pownce this! Pownce him! Unpownce this? Go Pownce? Hm. One invite to the best verb form creator!

Tags: Pownce, Digg, Social Networking, pownce invites, online sharing

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