Path's new redesign has caught attention and it marks a significant point at which business models and features from Asia are emerging in the US.
Talking to Kik founder Ted Livingston late last year, it was clear that companies in the US were taking note of the growth of Asian messaging apps. However Livingston, unlike Morin, believed that the business model doesn’t cross-over into the US directly, since user habits differ.
“The ‘put as many features in the app as possible’ approach [from Asia] isn’t going to work in the West,” he said in an interview in November. “Western users want a clean and simple experience, while we think that they like features but the core experience must be simple.”
Things have moved on, even since then, with Line launching its product in the US — rapper Snoop Dogg is among its brand ambassadors — and WeChat-maker Tencent is laying the ground work to launch a North American presence too. The Asian apps are coming, so it figures that their standout features will make the transition to US services too.
Although their respective user bases far outnumber Path’s 6 million downloads, the latter likely enjoys a larger presence in the US. That could turn Path into a strong competitor to both messaging apps and, with Facebook Messenger continuing to evolve, it could be that stickers and other Asia-like features are adopted by other western messaging apps off the back of Path’s actions.
Certainly the launch of Path 3.0 is significant in so much that it is the first clear sign that a US messaging firm has borrowed business models and features from peers in Asia. So much for the Asian copycats.