At first glance, Kevin Rose of Digg's new startup Pownce is Yet Another Status Message Service (YASMS) like Twitter, Jaiku or Plazes. But really, its a collaboration app made for the most modern web. It's bound for adoption because the founders can drive word of mouth and its inherent virality. And perhaps what it does is less important than the three trends it represents.
Like others, the primary activity is messaging to your social network. You message to all your friends or public like others, or directly like typing "D Username" in Twitter at the beginning of a message, but also lets you select a subset of friends. Beyond messages, you can share links, files and events. Beyond doing this on the web, there is a Windows or Mac rich client.
The digerati and diggerati will probably rant away about how it doesn't have SMS or IM integration like Twitter, how the content is mundane (same thing with blogging five years ago), how it needs APIs and microformats (which it does, and hooks into Twitter, del.icio.us, Flickr, Upcoming and Facebook are inevitable), or just complain about adding friends again (Adding friends is the new zen). The design is slick on both the web and client and they will polish up key details like last names, comment threading like Jaiku, permalinks and need a more public space to explore.
What does it matter how one comes by the truth so long as one pounces upon it and lives by it? -- Henry Miller
But here's the three trends:
YASMS Gets and Ad Format -- I admire startups that launch with an actual business model. They have introduced a new Ad Format, a message broadcast into the stream with the Pownce icon (the green P in the above screenshot is an ad from PBwiki, I love wikis) that doesn't seem to persist. I didn't mind the ad from LaughingSquid (first I saw) in my peripheral attention. And if I did, I could pay to make it go away, but subscribing to the Pro version for $20/year and also be able to send files over 100MB.
AIR Gets a Viral App -- The client is built on the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), formerly Apollo and still in Beta. Pownce's virality will give AIR the airtime it needs for base of users to install it, making it easier for the next AIR client to come along. This should be AIR's showcase. That said, Pownce's model is what I call contained virality, where limits are part of the draw and when you are in you feel in (at least to share music, a hidden driver).
Consumer Collaboration Get Hip -- Anyone who follows the enterprise collaboration space will immediately see parallels with P2P collaboration apps like Groove or Shinkuro. Or IM, Skype and more directly enterprise IM like MindAlign. The key difference is group forming by social network and default modes of sharing more publicly. Pownce will appeal to a very different demographic, that's already collaborating on blogs, wikis and IM, and potentially full a space in between.
There are several vectors in which Pownce could go, or others could go towards including presence, location, public IM, security, indexing and integration. Pownce will have to open up invites soon (I'm out, please don't ask) to build its network effect before others encroach. It isn't unique enough to gain the continuous or at least partial attention of users for yet another client. Infrastructure costs will be greater than P2P. At the risk of breaking the design and making it too complex, Pownce should give serious thought to the role of standards and how they could be a client for Facebook.
Please, I don't have any invites.