I was about to name them but no, Path is about privacy first, so I won’t. Want to know where most influential and successful entrepreneurs, VCs and tech writers hide online these days? How they spent their new years eve and with whom? Want to be able to interact with some of them so famous and with so many gazillion followers on Twitter and Facebook that there is no chance they will read you and reply there?
Look no further than Path, it’s the new “club branché” where almost every A-lister in Silicon Valley I know hides these days.
They share thoughts, pics and short videos, very intimate. They share what they eat and it’s ok because it keeps you in very close touch, they share quick smileys and yes, they even share when they go to sleep and when they wake up.
Thanks to many unique features such as notifying you exactly when and who has seen your pictures or your feed, Path is the ultimate way of keeping you in touch with your close friends. Close is the key, you can’t exceed 150 friends on Path and you get so many notifications that you’d better make sure you really want to hear about people you friend there because you sure will.
Path has also been designed entirely mobile day one, and it shows. The attention to details and how pure is the UI make it one of the best iPhone app I know these days (see Path founder Dave Morin comment on this at LeWeb). It’s inspiring to use just to see how a really near perfect mobile app looks like. It’s entirely native and it feels really nice and fast. Facebook has been basing its iPhone app more and more on html5 and I have to say the latest versions feel slower to me, especially when you refresh the feed or want to post an update, you can feel there is a lot of web stuff being loaded, a choice that Facebook has been very public about. Sure it makes it very easy to update the app but it doesn’t have the same feel.
Path’s recent growth isn’t about features, though, it’s more about people. Facebook and Twitter have become very mainstream, many people have hundreds if not thousands of friends and connections there. Despite Facebook’s efforts to add “who you can share to” features most people feel that what Facebook wants more and more is for you to share everything in public. It’s the default setting. Path fills that gap for some people, it created a small place where you can hang out online anytime with your close friends and it does a superb job at pinging you all the time about them. And that’s okay, since they’re your close friends, you do want to hear about them all day long.
When Path added recently the option of sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare simultaneously, it became de-facto a posting client for them.
Basically the way I see my friends using Path is: “if it’s for my close friends, I just post to Path. If it’s for the masses and I don’t care that much, I will crosspost it from Path to Facebook and Twitter”. Basically if it’s important keep it in Path, if it’s more mainstream that who knows can read it and it’s a whatever update, share it to the social networks for the masses.
Sure, Path is still in its infancy and it’s very small compared to Twitter and Facebook. Yes, like every hip and fashionable restaurant or night club it might lose its appeal at any moment the A-list decides, that’s how fashion works. And of course it isn’t a real threat to Facebook or Twitter yet, it’s very small. Yeah, you can look at it as a well done app for a few people that has very cool features.
Since I was with Dave Morin on stage at LeWeb I started using it daily and I was very surprised on how addictive it gets (bummer I forgot to say when I went to bed and woke up on Path last night, my friends will miss that information badly) because my friends are using it. It has become the app I use the most daily on my iPhone and the very first feed I read. Then I also read and interact on Facebook, Twitter and the growing Google+, of course, but it doesn’t have the same feel.
Time will tell, but I think Dave and his team are onto something really big by aiming at keeping it small.