ADOTAS – A company that has been trending these past few weeks is the newly-revamped social network Path. I was so impressed by the coverage I read that I downloaded the application on my iPhone, even though I’m not such an early adopter.
Though I haven’t played that much with Path and haven’t added any friends (because none of my closer friends are on Path yet), the early buzz does warrant the question: Can Path unseat Facebook?
If you think it’s too early to pose that question, you’re right — but I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look at what Path is doing now and to consider the potential. I personally never really felt that Google+ had much of a chance of unseating Facebook, but I think Path is doing some things very well, beginning with its homepage. I like the fact that the term “social network” doesn’t appear anywhere. Sure, everyone is calling it a social network, but I like how they’re attempting to position themselves as “a smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love.” I also like the way it’s been built for a mobile experience, supporting mobile platforms. That differentiation should help it compete with Facebook (if that’s even their objective). Many of the reviews I have read have praised Path for the simplicity and usability of its design, though I personally haven’t used it enough yet to comment.
Another feature that is appealing to me is the 150-friend limit. Personally, I never felt Facebook was the place for lengthy and intimate conversations. The friend limit will force people to be more selective, which will make Path more intimate by design. That said, there are lots of people with thousands of friends who will be challenged by the friend limitation on Path.
At present, Path is not running advertising, which definitely makes sense, given the kind of business it’s trying to build. Without advertising or commerce, it shouldn’t have the kind of privacy concerns that seemed to follow Facebook in its early years (and beyond).
So to return to my initial question: Can Path unseat Facebook? In my opinion, the answer is no.
I don’t think they’re trying to unseat Facebook, because they’re trying to build a totally different experience. And despite the growth of Facebook, there are plenty of users suffering from Facebook fatigue. For many of them, Path will be exactly what they’re looking for — a social non-network.
Editor’s note: Path’s leadership has been adamant that it won’t sell advertising. Instead, it offers up-sells to users. What do you think of this business model? Is a company like Path sustainable without advertising? Leave a message in the comments section.