Ning has created a recent buzz in the blogophere as the start-up co-founded by Marc Andreessen also the co-founder of Netscape was released. Ning was formerly known as 24 Hour Laundry but just changed its name to Ning.
So what is Ning? Ning is a free online service that allows users to build "social applications" or websites with ease. So what is a "social application"? The Ning website explains a "social application" as:
"Social apps are web apps made up of code and content that enable people to match, transact, and communicate with one another. Social apps can include listings, reviews, ratings, recommendations, discussion boards, photo sharing, social bookmarking, wishlists, events, people matching, maps, as well as many other features."
With Andreessen and CEO and co-founder Gina Bianchini, Ning has 14 employees. It appears Ning has already started a handful of sites as example sites to inspire new users. According to the Ning website they look to get users to register and set up a site and then use the sites to house advertisements. So if a lot users flock to use Ning, the number to sites will increase and thus create more real estate to place advertisements.
I think the release of the new platform is innovative, in that it simplifies creating a site on an existing content management system platform. Many blog platforms are similar to Ning and just as powerful too. Ning seems to be a blog platform repackaged for even more ease of use. Ning reminded me of Drupal an open source content management project. However, I do not think Drupal is nearly as user friendly to work with. I think Ning could be used to create some wonderful niche applications but I do not know how much customization is allowed within Ning to enabling building a new community/brand. I have read several posts in the blogosphere that are more skeptical than I am of the new platform. It appears many bloggers do not feel they want a clutter of social networking communities. Many also question if you can really build a solid community site like Match.com, Flickr or eBay with such a simplified app platform. I also found the Ning business model simple and in-line with the long tail philosophy that benefits Ning by expanding the user base of niche sites. Finally, I thought the use of tagging Ning sites was a great way to help promote the sites among other users.
To read more about Ning, check out the Ning website and the Ning FAQ. To read more from the Ning buzzing blogosphere check out SiliconBeat, Web 2.0 Explorer, The Community Engine, Feedwriter, My Likes And Dislikes, T. Longren, and Corante.