AppJet make boo-boo: they closed

AppJet is dead. Long live AppJet.

Aaron Iba, AppJet’s CEO, has made the decision to close AppJet because they realised that EtherPad, their real-time document collaboration product, is commercially viable. Never mind that there is a growing community using the free product: hosting for Server-Side JavaScript with an in-browser editor.

I think this is the worst possible reaction AppJet could have had to the realisation that EtherPad could make them some money. I think this because AppJet is currently the only tool out there where you get the in-browser editor combined with hosting of applications.

The closest competitor to AppJet is Jaxer’s Aptana Cloud service which, although it has a free account, charges $20/month for its cheapest paid-for package. It’s not apples for apples in this case, as Aptana Cloud provides a great deal more in the hosting side of things, such as infrastructure scaling and integration with databases.

However, Aptana Cloud relies on Aptana Studio, which is a chunky piece of desktop software used for developing web software. AppJet gave you a tiny application editor that you accessed through your browser. This encouraged you to think of your applications as pieces of the web, capable of working with other pieces of the web, such as the libraries and applications that other AppJet users had built. The requirement for free hosting was that your application source was published.

These patterns encouraged a vision of the community providing little applications that performed singular tasks.  This is a much different construction to the Aptana Cloud product, which is essentially individualistic hosting of entire web applications and web sites.

It’s true that focussing on a core product is often a good thing to do, and EtherPad is a pretty cool real-time document collaboration tool. The problem that I have with this is that people are already doing that.

I guess this move will work out well for AppJet in the end. I’m just hoping someone somewhere will pick up from where they left off.


  1. Posted June 2, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    It is a shame that they closed off like this, and since <a href=" "Reasonably Smart was bought by Joyent, they’ve become really quiet too.

    Oh well, we it looks like can live in hope that they’ll open up again – the idea seemed really promising.

  2. Posted June 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I just wrote and entry on this also:

    Saw your link in the Appjet forum.

  3. Chris
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s also incredibly strange timing from them, given that their old mother ship (I think they’re ex-Googlers) just launched Wave, which could quite easily end etherpad entirely.

  4. Chris
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Whoops. Not launched. Announced.

  5. Posted June 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    We (Joyent) are getting close to the point where we will need some testers for the Joyent Smart Platform (aka. Reasonably Smart). Not sure of the exact timing, but soon. Pester @jamesaduncan on Twitter to get on the list.

    Aptana’s Cloud (Jaxer) is on Joyent too. Great stuff.

    I’ve worked with Freebases’s Acre platform, which is pretty cool too, and free.

  6. Posted June 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I am developing and running an AppJet clone with the help of the AppJet community since February 09. It is still pre-beta, but existing AppJet applications should run unmodified. If you need to keep an AppJet program up and running, feel free to host it on No strings attached.

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  1. […] month ago, I wrote about how sad I was that AppJet were closing their doors to developers, leaving those of us who want […]

  2. […] servers as much as realistically possible. They came out with Smart Platform shortly before the demise of AppJet’s free service, which I had been happily trying for a while, as it did much the same […]