Photo: By Morydd on flickr
Path is the new startup founded by Shawn Fanning, of Napster fame, and Dave Morin, previously a top executive at Facebook. It’s an app that lets you share pictures with your friends from your iPhone. Should be hot, right?Not according to the tech set who have been trashing the company since it launched earlier.
What sets Path apart is that it only allows you to have 50 friends on the service, and makes sure your photos stay private there. That’s very much unlike the current photo-sharing-app-for-the-cool-kids, Instagram.
The kind of people who write for tech blogs all day (guilty as charged) hate it. Don’t you get it? The internet is growing more and more open, and sharing is always growing more public!
We think that’s true if you’re part of the tech set like us. And it may be true for the rest of the world some day. But that’s not how the vast majority of people, particularly people over 30, see it. Facebook and Twitter may be prodding them toward more public sharing, but it doesn’t mean they like it, and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s no room for more private kinds of sharing.
Here’s the thing that makes us think Path can actually be a huge hit: baby pictures.
We wouldn’t mind tweeting out pictures of our newborn baby. But we guarantee that a ton of people don’t like the idea of showing pictures of their baby to strangers on Twitter, or even to that guy from high school they accepted on Facebook. Unless they’re the kind of parents who absolutely must tell every living soul about their baby, they want to share those pictures, but only with family and a handful of friends. And that handful of people might love seeing dozens of pictures, but their 300 Facebook friends won’t.
Yesterday afternoon we had coffee with a friend who just had a gorgeous baby girl. He showed us pictures of his adorable children on his iPhone, and we saw them for the first time, because he hadn’t put them on Twitter or Facebook. Why not? Don’t want to. Sure, I could make a list on Facebook so that only a set of people can see them, but that’s a pain in the neck, so why bother. And this friend uses Instagram. He works at a big tech company. He’s tech savvy. He enjoys sharing pictures of his baby (don’t we all), but not on a public forum like Twitter or the semi-public forum Facebook has become.
The kind of people who are having babies are probably a bit older than the people writing for tech blogs, and probably a bit less addicted to Twitter. And there’s a lot more of them.
Be honest: don’t you have at least some pictures on your phone right now that you’d like to share with a few friends but wouldn’t post on Facebook on Twitter? We do. And we think there are millions of people out there who do too.
So we think Path may still have a hit on their hands.