Crunching the Friend Feed Stats to Find the Most Popular Web Apps
One of the nicest things about the Internet is that if you sit on your ass for long enough, someone will code up whatever little side project you’re thinking about starting. In my case, I was interested in finding out general statistics about Friend Feed as a tape measure of how popular certain social bookmarking sites are. Enter Friend Feed Stats. Thank you, lazyweb.
What Is the Most Popular Web Service?
Ben has even broken up the stats by web service. Twitter leads the pack, account for 50% of the total items on Friend Feed. With the latest changes allowing you to merge the commenting interface with Twitter, I rapidly see Friend Feed as becoming my Twitter web client instead of the twitter.com site. All they have to do is give you a quick way to send tweets, and make the “reply on Twitter” option a default plus include the 140 character counter.
Trend #1: 90% of the Friend Feed participation comes from the top 8 services (Twitter, Blog, Google Reader, del.icio.us, Digg, Tumblr, YouTube, StumbleUpon). 46% of that comes from Twitter. It’s not surprising that Twitter leads the pack, because the nature of the service makes it easy to update many times a day.
The bottom 12 services (not include the ones added this week) can’t even manage to scrape 1% of the total between them (Pandora, Ma.gnolia, Upcoming, Picasa, iLike, Google Shared, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Furl, Yelp, Zooomr, SmugMug).
The blog number might be inflated because people could be using it as “generic RSS”. I was a little shocked to see that Google Reader shares were more popular that Delicious bookmarks, but it is easier to share on Google Reader than del.icio.us.
Tumblr is doing surprisingly well as a blogging platform.
In the instant messenger space, Twitter kills all. I hope Google got whatever mobile phone smarts they needed for Android from Jaiku because Twitter would have been such a better buy.
In the social voting space, Digg is the winner, with StumbleUpon giving a good showing. Reddit is pretty weak.
In the social bookmarking space, Delicious and Google Reader are king. Together they account for 17x the participation of Ma.gnolia, Google Shared Stuff (the Google equiv to delicious that NO ONE uses), and Furl.
In the social music space, Last.FM is kicking ass.
In social video, YouTube all the way.
In social photos, Flickr wins big, with Picasa showing a small but not insignificant number.
Trend #2: the top web service in every category is the first notable major player in that space. The copycats are barely blips on the radar. Of course, the Friend Feed audience is almost entirely early adopters who read blogs, so it isn’t surprising that they’d be early adopters for other services as well.
But it shows that you can’t ignore the Network Effect. People will use the service that the people they want to network with use. Once an incumbent has a critical market share, it is very hard to oust them.
Trend #3: the social bookmarking space is dead, dead, dead. Delicious has always held the lions share of the space, but Google managed to come in sideways and leverage their RSS reader to become as popular as Delicious. Everyone else is burning VC money.
Google vs Yahoo vs Microsoft?
This is a trick question, because Microsoft doesn’t have any web services supported by Friend Feed :)
- Google: Google Reader, YouTube, Jaiku, GTalk, Picasa, Google Shared Stuff
- Yahoo: Delicious, Flickr, Upcoming
Google and Yahoo are very competitive with each other, but neither hold a candle to Twitter. Is the huge intersection between the Twitter user base and Friend Feed skewing the stats? I think so.
Trend #4: Friend Feed needs to nurture its Twitter audience without becoming Twitter. With half the traffic on Friend Feed being Twitter messages, it would be easy for them to overwhelm the service and destroy the signal-to-noise ratio to the point where Friend Feed is a glorified Twitter client.
Trend #5: there are some great web services out there that are still in startup mode – (Twitter, Digg, Tumblr, Friend Feed) but is their anyone other than Google/Microsoft to buy them? Yahoo has enough going on now that I don’t see them buying any other companies in the foreseeable future. If Google doesn’t have to compete with Yahoo on web apps, is there the same incentive for purchasing other companies?
Amazon has found a great niche in providing infrastructure for these web apps, but I don’t see them buying web apps and integrating them under the Amazon umbrella. EBay bought StumbleUpon and CBS bought Last.FM but are they really looking to expand their portfolios in this space?
I’ve said before that the average person can only handle up to six social web app sites, and I’m finding that Friend Feed makes it easier for me to consolidate that all to one site (bringing the number up to 10). But it’s still evident that a small number of sites have the majority of users, while people haven’t even heard of the rest of them. Monetization isn’t even an option for many sites because they’re providing wants, not needs.
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