Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm.

And now a reminder of how tough the App Store slog really is

A few days ago, San Francisco-based startup Path released a major new update to its app, generating some of the best tech press I’ve ever seen. (Deservingly so. The new app is beautiful.)

Since then, my Twitter stream — tech scenesters, largely — has been gushing praise for the new Path app. And many people I follow are using it to publicly share photos, locations, etc. For the first time, there is activity in my Path app.

But if you’re looking for an example of how hard the app economy is to conquer — and perhaps how disconnected the early-adopter tech community is from mainstream App Store success — this is a good one.

Despite all the praise — and promotion atop the “New” featured slot in Apple’s iTunes store — Path’s iPhone app is not cracking the top 100 free apps: It’s currently no. 108. In the social networking category, Path is currently the no. 10 free app.

The good news is that this is much, much better than how Path’s app was performing previously.

This chart from AppAnnie shows how much Path’s download popularity has risen since the new version came out this week. In the social networking category (red line), it spiked to the top 25, from 200s and 300s over the previous month. Overall (blue line), it went from unranked earlier this week to no. 105 yesterday.

Path download ranks chart

It’s a promising trajectory, and if Path can feed off its buzz, keep signing up new users and keep them engaged, it has a chance to succeed. Early adopters are “early” for a reason, and this stuff takes a while.

But: Let this be a reminder that it’s really hard, even if you’re good.

Follow-up: Network effect! Path cracks the iPhone App Store top 25

Also: Path and Instagram are making Facebook look incredibly uninventive at mobile