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App.net goes gratis, announces invitation-only free accounts

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Since its inception, App.net has been working hard to improve its growing platform, giving all of its paid users a 10GB bucket of cloud storage and opening up its File API so devs could use the data stored there. Today, folks wanting in on the fledgling social platform can do so without paying the $36 annual fee -- provided you can score an invite from a paying member. And, there's something in it for paid accounts who refer folks. Both the inviter and invitee get an extra 100 MB of storage (up to 2GB) if the invitee subsequently follows 5 people and authorizes a third-party app.

Should you be lucky enough to score an invite, you won't have the same level of access as your paid brethren, however. Free accounts can only follow up to 40 users -- paid accounts have no such restriction -- and get a 500MB cloud locker. Also, while paid accounts can upload 100MB files, gratis accounts are limited to 10MB uploads.

We got to speak with Dalton Caldwell, CEO of App.net about the shift to a freemium model and he told us that the move has been in the works for some time. The reason it took awhile to do so is that App.net wanted to ensure that it had a market for its paid services and that it had enough of an app ecosystem to make App.net appealing to free users as well. Caldwell also informed us that in order to keep the number of free accounts manageable, paid members will get a limited number of invites to start -- with more invites appearing as the company finds it prudent to do so.

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