What Does Path Have to Offer vs. Facebook and Others?

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This week a new photo sharing social network received a great deal of attention. It's called Path and has a pretty impressive list of names backing it. These include Ashton Kutcher, Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Keith Rabois, Dustin Moskovitz, Marc Benioff, Gary Vaynerchuk, Steve Anderson, Tim Draper, Joi Ito, Fadi Ghandour, Matt Cohler, Sam Lessin, Bill Randuchel, Karl Jacob, Paul Buchheit, Ruchi Sanghvi, John Couch, Michael Parekh, Claudio Chiuchiarelli, Maurice Werdegar, Don Dodge, and Chris Kelly. 

You probably recognize at least some of those. Oh, and its co-founders are Dave Morin (Senior Platform Manager at Facebook), Shawn Fanning (Founder of Napster) and Dustin Mierau.

Path is touted as "the Personal Network that you access on an iPhone". Essentially, if you use an iPhone, you can take pictures, tag people, places and things, and share with up to 50 people. We had a couple questions about the service. For one, who is the target audience of this? Facebook has over half a billion users, an adequate photo sharing tool, and a recently announced way to share things with only the friends of your choosing. Smartphones typically let you take pictures and share them via Facebook or other channels, including email. Plus none of these are exclusive to the iPhone.  Though to be fair, it looks like they do intend to support other devices in the future.

Matt Van Horn, VP, product development for Path tells WebProNews the target audience is "Anyone interested in sharing the memories along the path through life." 

Fair enough. 

What is the advantage of Path over just emailing a picture to the people you want to see it? "Many of us carry a camera phone, and our photos tell the stories of our lives," says Van Horn. "Path is a place to be yourself and share life with close friends and family. Path allows you to capture your life's most personal moments and share them with the 50 close friends and family in your life who matter most."

So I guess if you want to share a photo with 50 people rather than a few or your whole social network of friends, Path is an option. Of course so is Facebook's Groups. 

Ok, so Path is simply an alternative to Facebook photo sharing. According to NPR, Morin (who is also CEO) said Facebook has just become too big, too public, and that you really don't want to share everything with hundreds of friends. 

Again, Facebook has addressed this with recent features, but I guess this is targeted at the people that don't pay attention to all of that stuff or still don't feel comfortable with Facebook when it comes to privacy. This is somewhat understandable, as the lack of regard for privacy reputation Facebook has (despite efforts to improve this) has been a hard one for the company to shake. This has become evident yet again as Facebook announced its new messaging and email service this week. 

Then you still have the people out there that just don't use Facebook. There are some. Then again, Facebook isn't the only other option. You have dedicated photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa web albums.  Nothing wrong with having another option though. It will be interesting to see how Path develops.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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