Following an apparently disastrous meeting with Facebook, Dalton Caldwell — he of imeem fame — vowed to unseat not only Facebook but Twitter too, with App.net, a fledgling social network that lets you share text messages as well as app activity. Third-party developers, says Caldwell, will be able to use it without worrying about the company they’re in bed with changing terms or implementing strong-arm tactics that might not be in their best interest, as he claimed Facebook tried to do to him.
We’ve already seen what we think is the first music app to link App.net users: SpotCast, which lets people broadcast music to each other in real time via Spotify. But as things stand now, only Facebook Connect has the massive scale App.net aspires to, for connecting app activity. Every music app that uses it, from what we have seen, has experienced a usage boom after integrating with Facebook (in part because sharing listening activity makes more sense than sharing reading habits).
The way Facebook Connect works with music services is simple: It scrobbles whatever you’re playing, so that your friends can see those songs in their news ticker, as well as in the Music section of your Facebook profile. Last.fm, of course, invented scrobbling, which is why we called it “Facebook Music’s biggest loser.”
You know who loves App.net? Last.fm does. And who could blame them? If any single entity needs an alternative to Facebook, when it comes to building apps that scrobble music and share activity with friends through a social network, it is Last.fm (now part of CBS). We’re not surprised to see that Last.fm has an App.net account, that it is working on hacks to connect the services, and that it is asking around for ideas on how the two entities could work together.
Last.fm announced on App.net’s community board, “Hello ADN [App.net] community, what ways of integrating Last.fm and App.net can you think of? We’re working on some hacks. Let us know what you think.”
Importantly, for would-be Last.fm/App.net collaborators (and music app developers in general), App.net added what it’s calling “annotations” to the 256-character-or-less postings that pass through its social network. This means that when you (or the app you’re using) post something about a song to App.net, that post could potentially include lyrics, the genre of the song, artist photos, biographies, similar artists, your location, or just about anything else that can be represented by data, which would then appear to your App.net friends on the web, inside whatever reader app they’re looking at, or perhaps most promisingly, within the music app they are listening to.
These are still early days for App.net, but it has two things in its favor: Twitter has to make money for its investors, and Facebook has to make money for its stockholders. Caldwell and company are counting on $50/person signups being enough to run App.net without the need for it to do anything to scare third-party developers away from its API, which makes a lot of sense (albeit not to everybody). We’re interested to see what Last.fm comes up with along these lines, because it too has a vested interest in a social app connector emerging that is not Facebook Connect.