Mobile

With 20M registered users, Path releases major update and premium service

path-funding
Image Credit: Robert Scoble http://www.flickr.com/photos/scobleizer/5740882816/

Path released the latest version of its app today which includes new features designed to give the user more control. Path 3.2 has tools for private sharing, designating an “inner circle,” and will now offer a premium subscription service.

“We always go back to Dunbar’s research which says that you can only have substantial or stable relationships with 150 people,” product manager Cynthia Samanian said in an interview at Path’s offices. “But within that 150, there are concentric circles, and each circle represents more depth and more meaning. 3.2 is all about giving users more control over who they share with.”

Path launched in 2010 to offer a more private, ad-free alternative to Facebook. Facebook for many users became very noisy and a place where you couldn’t feel safe sharing things because a family member or potential employer might see it.

Path, on the other hand, is ad-free and  restricts your number of friends to 150. The idea is to allow you to form a tightly-knit community, and also be a place where you can keep a log of your daily life through location check-ins, photo-sharing, and intimate status updates.

“We want Path to be the place people go first that has everything they want to do,” Samanian said. “They don’t have to think twice about what they post, it is private by default, but they can share if to other social networks if they want. Users should be able to post moments and share with their friends without restriction, and our goal is to get everyone’s closest friends and family on Path.”

Private sharing adds an additional layer of privacy to the Path experience. It lets users select one-by-one the people they want to share posts with. This means that only people who explicitly choose can see that content. Samanian said this was the feature users requested the most.

The inner circle feature lets people designate a core group of family and friends from within their Path following. If there are certain people you want to share with more frequently than others, this tools makes sharing with only them easier.

The premium subscription gives users greater access to stickers, a feature it released with Path 3 in March 2013, along with private messaging. Stickers are like a ramped up version of emojis. Some of the stickers are designed by well-known artists and brands, and people pay to use them.

Samanian said that the stickers have been extremely popular and Path has doubled its daily revenue since July.

“The stickers are all about expressions,” she said. “They are all about showing big emotions and people love to express themselves with them. We are just getting started, and in the next iterations there will be more features related to self expression and customization.”

For $1.99 a month and $14.99 a year (on Android), users will gain unlimited access to all Path’s photo filters and stickers in the shop, as well as early access to new shop items.

Path has been the subject of some controversy and speculation, with rumors circulating about its tactics to acquire users, its actual number of users, and gossip over funding, acquisition offers, and valuation.

The company said it now has 20 million registered users and is experiencing strong international growth. Part of this growth has been driven by partnerships with telecommunications companies, who preload the app on devices. Path announced its 7th partnership today with Deutsche Telecom, which has 37 million customers in Germany.

Earlier this year, it added more companies to its application programming interface (API) and has also announced that it is one of the few partners for Samsung’s hotly anticipated smart watch.


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