When I first heard about Pownce I was somewhat sceptical. It seemed like an effort to piggyback off the success of Twitter and Jaiku (to a lesser extent). As with the Twitter/Jaiku debate there is no clear winner unless you are very specific about your requirements. For starters, Pownce has a different focus to Twitter or Jaiku even though it has a Twitter/Jaiku-style interface:
Pownce is a way to send stuff to your friends. What kind of stuff? You can send just about anything: music, photos, messages, links, events, and more.
Twitter is about answering the question, what are you doing? Jaiku is about status updates, presence, mobile presence and sharing via content aggregation. There is definitely some overlap but neither Twitter or Jaiku enable users to send files or event notifications quite like Pownce and for those users who want to be able to do that, it makes sense to use Pownce.
There are other similarities. Like Jaiku, Pownce allows for replies to posted items and what I like about the replies is that there are available through a link and not simply posted as and when they come in via the normal stream. There is also a star based rating system (you can see the Digg roots coming through) for each post. The reply handling is pretty nifty. Jaiku does a decent job of the comments although they are still presented in the main stream so it can be overwhelming if there are a number of comments to a number of posts. The rating thing is just a bit of extra fluff.
Another great tidbit is the availability of a feed for Pownce notes although the feed includes public friends’ notes as well. Jaiku handles feeds better because it gives you a combined feed for your posts as well as your friends’ posts and is also gives you a separate feed for your own posts exclusively.
Pownce gives users more privacy options and you can choose who gets to see what information about you and emanating from you. Here it becomes similar to Facebook’s privacy options and that really comes in handy because Twitter and Jaiku don’t really have the privacy options (Jaiku allows you to hide posts from the public or display them) Pownce provides if that stuff is important to you.
There is also a desktop client that runs on Adobe’s new AIR platform (you need to install AIR and then the desktop client). You can see what the whole system is based on and who the team members are right here.
At the moment there is no mobile or IM interface for Pownce (given the way it works, I am not sure a decent IM experience is possible although I can see a mobile client for Pownce working out). Pownce doesn’t have the aggregation features of Jaiku or the single-minded focus of Twitter which has been a big contributor to its success. As far as status messages go, I just don’t see the point moving over to Pownce. Where I do see the appeal is in the file sharing and possibly the event management posts. Those could come in handy if your friends are all on board. I haven’t mentioned that there is a link post option in Pownce too but given del.icio.us and the same function on my tumblelog, this feature doesn’t really rate a mention.
As I type this I can see how Jaiku will pretty much cover Pownce’s bases as far as content sharing goes, bearing in mind that I tend to upload my content to YouTube, Vimeo or Flickr and then share that content. On the other hand if you want to just send a file to someone without bothering with the uploads to other services and where your email client won’t handle the file size (you can upload up to 10 MB with the free Pownce service – there is a “pro” version where you can send files up to 100 MB) then Pownce is once again for you.
As with other services, one way to decide whether you want to use it is to try it out. At the moment access is by invitation only and it turns out I have a few invitations available so send me an email if you would like one. First come, first served! Then let me know what you think?