Marc Andreessen’s pet-project Ning which lets users clone, customize, create and share their own web applications has just launched 3 new social websites which it hopes will bring in a more mainstream audience than the geeky early adopter/programmer crowd it’s so far managed to attract. The three new social websites include Ning Videos, a YouTube“>YouTube clone, Ning Photos, Flickr clone, and Ning Group, a social network. Users can take these applications and make it their own, clone it, customize it, and do whatever they like.
In the pre-release FAQ blog post (official release here) they outline Ning’s future and what it’s trying to do. I think this for them is not just an addition of 3 new applications but a relaunch as a whole. One of the things they’re focusing on is to bring Ning to the average mainstream user. So, instead of using MySpace to socialize they want users to have their own group application, instead of using YouTube to post their skate-boarding videos they want users to have their YouTube just for skate-boarding and build a community around that, and so on. As they state, the possibilities are endless.
When I tried it out, I was a bit amazed at how simple everything was. This is some really exciting stuff and if they can pull out some excellent niche websites with this I think some good viral marketing and word-of-mouth in specific groups could really get it to the mainstream. To do this, Ning will have to attract the hardcore creators to create and the hardcore consumers to consume rather than getting the two mixed up. Heck, I can already imagine things like a ‘YouTube for biking videos’ or ‘Flickr for professional photographers’ panning out to be really popular in their communities.
Another thing they’ve slightly changed and stress on in the blog post is the business model. Users can now pay Ning $20 per month to run their own ads on their applications (they really needed this incentive), $5 to use their own domain name for their application, $8 to hide the source code from other users and additionally purchase more bandwidth and storage shall they need it.
For the first time, Ning is looking to be profitable, interesting, and on the verge to partial-success. They’re really chasing after the mainstream and very rightly so, after all that’s where the real usership lies. They’re giving some good incentives to the creator and making this stuff exciting to the average wanting-to-create consumer.
[tags]Social Networks, Online Video, Photo Sharing, Ning[/tags]