On Day 2 of using Pownce - and remembering that it is in "beta" - my initial reaction was one of complete disgust at the sheer number of email messages that the site generates by default. I mean, who in their right mind would think that people would want email notifications for basically everything that happens on the site? Now, maybe there are people out there who don't get as much email as I do, but sheesh...
Thankfully there is a way to turn off the notifications to reduce the flow. I think the "Plain message received" is the biggest culprit. It seems that anytime any of your "friends" send you a message you wind up with an email message letting you know that you have a new message! Get more than a few friends and... ta da... your email inbox is deluged! So here would be my #1 feedback item to the developers:
Turn most of the notifications OFF by default!
Maybe just the "Pending friend request" and "Event invite received". Or put the notification screen as part of the signup process so that when someone is joining Pownce they see all this and can specify what they want. All I know is that my initial reaction on opening up my personal email this morning was that I almost immediately wanted to get out of Pownce!
As the bright, shiny object chasers keep moving to Pownce, there are the inevitable comparisons to other darling, Twitter, and while I don't have the time to write up my own thoughts today, a blogger named Tamar Weinberg posted a nice comparison: "Twitter vs. Pownce: Who Pwns?" that captures a lot of the differences very nicely, complete with screenshots. I agree with most of her points. The biggest difference to me seems to be APIs. With Pownce you must use either the (non-auto-refreshing) web page or the separate Pownce application. With Twitter, you can use the (auto-refreshing) web page, but there are now a ton of other apps that allow you to update Twitter. You can also connect to Twitter from other applications/devices that fit within your normal daily workflow. So, for instance, when I am in my home office, I use "twitter4skype" to read tweets from friends directly in a Skype IM chat window and post my own updates to Twitter. When I am on the road, I use my blackberry to SMS in updates (and could read them on my BB via SMS if I wished to do so). I have also updated Twitter from within Facebook. The key point is - I don't have to run yet another app on my PC, or be limited to having to go to a specific web page.
We'll see. I like the "Sets" that are part of Pownce, and the idea of sending files is interesting (but, gee, I can do that with any of my IM clients!)... but I really don't like having to go to the one web page (or using the app).
Noah Mittman also chimed in with a post comparing the two and offering the view that Twitter is aiming at being a multiplatform messaging system while Pownce is aiming to be a multipurpose "sharing" system. I understand the difference he's making, but it seems to me that right now people are viewing Pownce as primarily a better version of Twitter. It still to me is a micro-blogging/status/presence system. As to the "sharing", my ongoing thought is that we already have so many different ways to share files and links (as I count the number of IM clients I am running), that I'm not sure we really need yet another.
I think both Pownce and Twitter are stepping stones toward something else that amalgamates all these different communication needs.... I'm not sure what precisely that is (or I'd launch a startup!)...