The world has never seen a Web site like Facebook, where a sizable chunk of its population — 1.3 billion people — share details and media about their lives to their circle of friends. On its login screen, Facebook notes that it’s free to use and always will be. But it makes money via targeted ads. That’s why there is always close scrutiny, and a lot of concern bordering on paranoia, about its privacy policies, particularly when they change.
For those who like the idea of sharing status updates of their lives with a circle of friends without the intrusion of ads or fear of privacy breaches that many Facebook users have, there is Neobase. Billed as the world’s first private network device, the small cylindrical home server has a 1 terabyte hard drive. As opposed to just being used for sharing files like previous products, Neobase runs Neone, a social network that doesn’t have any central hub but runs on different people’s Neobases.
Each Neobase supports sharing with five different people, but you can add more friends if your friends also get Neobases. Since Neone charges consumers for the hardware, it doesn’t have to charge subscriptions or use advertising. The first of the campaign’s limited tiers to get the Neobase lists it at $199, which is $100 off the retail price. The company seeks $100,000 by April 30, but its campaign video notes that the devices are already in production and due in August.
Neobase would seem to appeal to social networking enthusiasts. However, limiting a unit to five accounts, while helping to manage privacy, wouldn’t even cover many far-flung families. It’s unclear whether the device can also be used to share files like previous home servers such as the Transporter or Pogoplug, both of which cost significantly less.
The price is particularly high given that sales of it is how Neone plans to expand its network. It’s also unclear if there’s the ability to cross-post to Facebook for updates that may be less sensitive. Neobase may have more potential for small business teams — something that Pogoplug also tried with a device — but in that case the guest account limitation is also set too low.