In Indonesia Path May Do To iPhone and Android What BBM Did to BlackBerry
This is a guest post by Ario Tamat. Ario worked in the digital music industry in Indonesia from 2003 to 2010, and currently works in the movie and TV industry in Vietnam. Keep up with him on Twitter at @barijoe or his blog on http://barijoe.wordpress.com
The amount of friends from various walks of life adding me on Path, or talking about Path on Twitter or cross-posting stuff, has shown that slowly but surely, Path – especially since the launch of Path 2.0 – is making a lot of inroads to Indonesian social network users. I agree, it’s visually stunningand addictive, and to some aspects, it becomes more intimate because it limits the amount of people you can “friend”.
So we got into an interesting conversation about Path – on Twitter, no less – yesterday, starting with this tweet:
Interesting – Blackberry’s spread in Indonesia was helped by the unique mix of viral and exclusivity of BBM. Now, Path for iOS/Android.
— Ario Tamat (@barijoe) January 4, 2012
This led to the following interesting conversation about Path – highlighting that for some, Path is simply another social network with a nice app interface. Not the fault of users – I believe Path may have some homework to do in iterating and suggesting on how best to use Path. I wonder how long it will take for people to figure out how to use Path more effectively?
But anyway, as I mentioned in the above tweet, one of the first things that made BlackBerry so popular in Indonesia, was the perceived exclusivity. You simply had to have a BlackBerry phone to use Blackberry Messenger, there was no way around it, and the phones were initially hard to come by in Indonesia.
A very large gray market operated for BB phones before RIM finally got its act together and did more in Indonesia. RIM and the mobile telcos then started to introduce more affordable services including prepaid plans with cheap (even daily) prices, making it a staple of many Jakartans today. As a result, the proliferation of Facebook and Twitter was also somewhat helped by BB, because of kids wanting to send constant updates wherever they are.
With Twitter and Facebook becoming mainstream and accessible through virtually any device, and the slow-but-sure growth of Android/iOS devices becoming the ‘desirable’ phone – and relegating the Blackberry to ‘mainstream’ device status – Path has become the ‘exclusive’ social network for these Android and iOS users, not on purpose, but mostly by chance, and supplanting BBM as the ‘exclusive’ social network of choice.
But the big difference is, Path is by default a limited social network, perhaps better named an intimate social network – therefore limiting the potential viral spread – and yet still becoming an ‘exclusive’ thing that not everybody can use.
BBM, however, has almost become the default communications platform – and arguably, social network, through BBM groups – for many urban users in business or pleasure, with the limit of BBM contacts at around 3500 (which is usually more than enough for most people). Path limits friends to a maximum of 150.
Now Path is certainly a novelty app gaining ground among Indonesian social network enthusiasts, but will it last as how Path is intended to be or will Indonesians stop using it once the novelty fades?
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