There was once a small social network called Path. It existed only on mobile devices, save for the pictures that some people post publicly on Twitter — in my opinion, that kind of defeats the purpose of Path as a social network, but I’m not going to talk about that. Path was getting a lot of critical acclaim up until the point where it was discovered they secretly uploaded your iPhone’s address book to their servers. That whole ordeal was widespread on every major publication and really hurt their credibility.
Back in February, Kevin Whipps discussed how trust had been compromised due to this mistake that Path made. He explained that there’s really no way to fix it since everything already went too far and it looked as if they were really invading your privacy. In any case, I still use the service and rather like it, but it still has a good ways to go before it’s near success. Let’s find out why after the break.
More Than Mobile
Path being purely mobile is kind of their main attraction to some, but in reality, it has lots of potential to hurt their community. Mobile access is indeed the new trend, but that doesn’t mean you should completely leave out the traditional computing crowd and resort only to smartphones.
Creating a whole website for Path is far from easy, but it’s a key step that they’ll have to make eventually — unless they want to develop apps for every major platform, which could also work. Either way, there’s going to be a lot of time spent developing something as stable and beautiful as Path has proved to be; overnight is not the timeframe.
There’s actually an unofficial Mac Path client called Journey that will allow you to browse your Path feed, but it has no writing permissions so you can’t post anything, which pretty much renders the entire app useless. However, there has been talk that this unofficial app may soon gain full access to the Path API, which would mean that Mac users too will be included in the Path social network. There’s no estimated timeline for this though.
Maybe Path wants to stay mobile, which wouldn’t destroy their network in the long run, but they do need to expand things a little bit more since “mobile” is actually a very broad field. How about some tablet support for the Android and iOS apps? I’m sure they have this in the plans, but now that the iPad has just gotten 4G LTE, it’s becoming more apparent that people will soon be toting their tablets around instead of their notebook computers.
That sounds contradictory to my previous thought, but it does tie in to it. The folks at Path might see a different future than social networks on the Web through a browser; they might want to make the jump to apps and create the future. I can see this happening since apps are definitely the future of things, but there will always be the computing crowd out there and you can’t just leave them out of the picture.
But Do You Trust Them?
Ideas are great, but if the company itself is never again trusted by the users, then none of these ideas even matter. Path has something special and unique. I for one would love to see more adopters of the network since it has great potential with simplicity far beyond that of Facebook. There are also those fun little features like sharing the music you’re listening to — you can’t do this as easily with Twitter or Facebook unless you use Spotify or something.
In the end, the question of trust remains and Path must somehow prove that they care about those users they drove away. Do you still trust them or is it out of the question?