Tag Archives: Mobile

Beauty & the Push (Thoughts on Path)

Everyone talks about how beautiful Path is. Instead, they should talk about how push-y it is.

Why? Because Path has 1) identified the critical mobile social channel (push notifs) and 2) executed on them like a pro (Dave Morin co-invented FB connect & understands channels well).

Here is why this is critical:

  • Morin wants to build a “slow” company (specifically a “slow” social network)
  • By Morin’s own definition this means “slow” organic install growth driven family, close friends (150 max friend limit)
  • Social networks increase in value as user base grows
  • If emphasis is truly on “slow” growth, extraordinary attention must be given to retaining the users that come in the door
  • Push notifs (PNs) are *the* critical mobile retention driver
Given the above, Path has executed very well:
  • High quantity of PN: nearly every type of user generated content (photo, thought, location, I’m with, I’m listening to) generates a PN to everyone in the user’s network. Basically, if you use Path, you generate PNs.
  • Quality of Path PNs is high. Two reasons for this 1) Path embeds user generated content into each PN (as a result you get personalized PN) and 2) length of PNs are very short
  • PN looping -> Since each user generated action creates a PN, users often create PN loops (Joe posts a thought, which sends a PN to Jill, Jill comments on it, which sends a PN to Joe, Joe comments back, which sends a PN to Jill, etc…)

Why does it matter?

  • A great PN strategy will act as a force multiplier on growth -> by dramatically altering the user retention curve for the better
  • Even low quality PN, sent at higher volume can have a material impact on app retention (think 1,000 basis points all across the retention curve)
  • Given Path’s good execution on PN, it’s likely that they are seeing retention gains in excess of 1,000 -> maybe as high as 2,000 basis points
  • This creates a material difference in daily average users (DAU) -> by D90 Path could be seeing a 500K+ incremental daily users due to their PN strategy (this is even under more conservative assumptions than a 2,000 bps difference throughout the retention curve)
  • As a result, PN strategy is likely driving an incremental ~35%+ increase in DAU

Do the (one) right thing

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a PM @savored who is newer to developing mobile apps. We chatted about what’s important to keep in mind when developing for mobile. My answer: it’s simple, just find the one (or two) things that matter most and nail those. You can ruthlessly deprioritize everything else. Seriously.

Let’s take a favorite example of mine, my Amazon Kindle Keyboard 3G. It lets me take 1,000 books anywhere and read them. When I first got my Kindle, I fell in love it with immediately. It was a clear, distinct step-function improvement over my status quo reading experience (trying to stuff 2 or 3 books into my bag before a week of travel).

It does not matter that 80% of the features on it are complete garbage. Tweet a quote? I’d wager that <1% of users have ever tweeted directly from Kindle and I bet less than 2% of users even realize it exists. The highlights section is cumbersome and painful to search through. The dictionary lookup forces all sorts of unnecessary clicks (if I’ve painfully scrolled to a certain word and double clicked to see a definition why am I forced to go to a new page if the definition happens to be longer than 100 characters?).

But you know what, it doesn’t matter. At all. The core reading experience is a quantum leap improvement over the status quo. Amazon got the one thing right and it makes all the difference.