Apple’s Social Path
There’s been a lot made of the fact that Apple should acquire Twitter because they need some sort of social network. Frankly I’m not sure that I understand the argument. Apple is a hardware company. Even if I am willing to entertain the concept of Apple getting into the social game, Twitter isn’t quite what I’d envision.
Apple has always been about about building hardware and services to empower content creators. Through pro software like Final Cut and Aperture to more user friendly stuff like iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand Apple has made sharing creativity easy. The iTunes store and now the App Store are built for the distribution of content, whether it’s music, movies or apps. So when you think about Apple being involved in a social network, it has the be an extension of that ethos.
Twitter is less of a social network and more of a real time information network. It answers the question, “What’s happening?”. You can share photos and you can share links, but it’s largely about answering that question. It’s simplicity is what makes a lot of people think it fits Apple, but I just don’t see Twitter’s purpose aligning with Apple’s purpose. If Apple is going to be involved in a social network it will be built around sharing content and simplifying your life.
There is a social network that I think fits in perfectly with Apple, and that network is Path. Founded by Dave Morin, a former Apple employee, Path made it’s splash by limiting the number of friends you can have to 50 (which has since been expanded to 150). It looks like a clean and simplified Facebook with a beautifully designed mobile app. Users can share status and location updates, share photos and videos, and share songs they’re listening to.
I never really thought Apple buying into a social network made sense until this week when Path announced it’s first API partnership with Nike. Through this partnership Path users can see their friends’ Nike+ runs in real time and even provide encouragement to those users which they will get in the form of cheers on their devices as they run. This got me thinking about the power of having social built into the device and platform itself (This power is why people are constantly talking about Facebook building their own phone).
Instead of rambling on about why this makes sense, let me paint a picture of the power of an Apple powered Path…
When you set up a device, while setting up iCloud and such with your Apple ID, you’ll also set up your Pat . If this isn’t your first Path enabled device, your friends will be notified and have their address books fixed automatically if there is a change in your number.
Path currently has the nifty ability to let it know when you’re going to sleep and when you wake up. It’s cool, but hard to remember to do each night and morning. Now that it’s built into the OS, your iPhone can (with your permission) use your accelormeters and other sensors to detect when you’ve gone to sleep and when you’ve woken up. If one of your friends, already linked in your address book via Path, tries to call or text you they get a warning that you may be asleep.
Location based apps, including the built in Map.app, will be able to leverage your Path history to provide recommendations based on where you are. Imagine the combinations of geo fencing, Siri, and social sharing.
Path already has simple built-in photo sharing and filters. Apple will be able to extend this and integrate this sharing into Photos and the new iPhotos app. Sharing whole albums will be easy as hitting a button. Garageband and iMovie creations will also be easily shared to your Path. All powered beautifully by iCloud.
Media and Apps
When you open the app store or the iTunes store, you will now be able to see the apps or music your friends have bought and shared. Friends will be able to recommend apps to you and have that recommendation pushed right to you.
When listening to a song or watching a video, you’ll be able to immediately share and comment on that item. Links to similar items in your friends’ Paths will take you right to Apple’s stores.
When looking for things to watch on your Apple TV you’ll see similar recommendations from people in your Path. You’ll also be able to look at all the videos and pictures shared by your friends.
Apple already has access to your most important social network, your address book. They also have a huge network of iPhone, iPad and Mac users that would make such a network easily populated with active users.
While Facebook is worrying about managing your entire massive social graph, and Google is trying to get you to put contacts into different Circles, Apple with Path would be worried simply about the people you contact the most. Keeping its core value of simplicity, it would let you easily keep up with the important people on your life.