When sites like Facebook and Twitter command such large a presence on the web, social internet startups can only hope to survive (and thrive) by offering unique services that differentiate themselves from the top players in the field. Enter startup “Path” – dubbed by some the “anti-social network.”
Path is a private photosharing network for you and your closest friends and family. Take special note when Path says “closest friends” however, because they mean “closest friends.” In an interesting (albeit unfamiliar twist) Path has capped the maximum number of friend’s at 50. Far less than the hundreds of friends we may possess on Facebook, Path believes setting a maximum number of connections can have its benefits. Because Path’s personal networks are limited to 50 people, users can always feel comfortable about posting a moment, no matter how personal it may be.
So how exactly does Path work? All it takes is a quick download of the mobile application (currently only available on iPhone) and your off and running. Take pictures, add moments to your “path,” and share them with your friends. Additionally, add information about the people, places, and things included in the photos to provide context.
An interesting concept, Path is not without its shortcomings. For one, Path is particularly passive for a social app. For instance, the ability to like, comment, or even share photos with other social networks is nonexistent. As a direct result of these limitations, the virality of photos shared within the network is significantly diminished, which will likely only hamper adoption rates and the speed at which leads are generated. On top of that, Path provides little value for people without smartphones. If you don’t own an iPhone (or comparable mobile phone) you’re pretty much out of luck.
Path may have found a solid niche, but to improve its currently limited functionality it should at least consider opening up the doors to more interaction, engagement and communication between users. Otherwise it’s just a passive photo gallery.