Photo: The U.S. Army via Flickr
A Facebook executive just came out and admitted it: His company is trying to copy Path, the mobile social network started by former Facebooker Dave Morin.”There’s a lot of people in Menlo Park who like to use [Path],” Facebook’s Henri Moissinac said at Le Web London, a conference currently taking place in the UK. “Facebook is trying to copy Path.”
The key word there being “trying.”
Path is notable for being a mobile-first experience: You can’t do anything meaningful on your desktop. It’s only available for smartphones and tablets.
As such, it strips away most of the options you have on Web-centric social networks like Facebook in favour of a few simple ways to share: photos, check-ins with friends, the music you’re listening to, and short thoughts.
Crucially, your friends’ list is limited to 150 people, and you get notifications for all of their Path updates. If you pick your Path friends well, it makes for an intimate experience of constant sharing throughout the day.
That’s a very different experience from Facebook, where getting buzzed every time one of your friends posts a status update would be insanely annoying. And that’s what keeps Facebook executives up at night.
There’s a feature in Facebook—like so many Facebook features, buried and not well understood—that lets you put someone on a list called “Close Friends.” With Close Friends, you get a more Path-like experience, with notifications every time they update. I find it’s useful for making sure I don’t miss updates from family members who would otherwise get buried in the noise.
The problem is that Facebook’s mobile app is still far too cluttered. But its designers’ hands are tied: If they drop viral features for games, developers will go elsewhere. If they break out features like photo sharing or messaging into standalone apps, as they’ve done with Facebook Camera and Messenger, they fragment the Facebook experience.
Just as Microsoft has found with Apple—”Redmond, start your photocopiers“—copying is easier said than done.
Don’t miss: Photos From Path’s Big Party In San Francisco
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