// Internet Duct Tape

Crunching the Friend Feed Stats to Find the Most Popular Web Apps

Posted in friendfeed, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on March 26, 2008

Social Bookmarking and Social Voting

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.

Exit Strategies?

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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19 Responses

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  1. David Leib said, on March 26, 2008 at 3:34 am

    Perhaps the more valuable feeds are the ones with the least participation.
    Lots of junk does not make it MORE useful, a few good things are.

  2. Reid said, on March 26, 2008 at 5:32 am

    I’m surprised to see Google Reader so low. I really think that the ability to share articles so easily without having to add friends to yet another service is huge, and if they can reliably figure out a way to compile the shared articles into a Digg-style voting site, that would be the ultimate Digg-killer. Integrating some of these kinds of services in with services that people are already using will be huge.

    Then again, I keep forgetting that most non-Techies don’t even know what RSS is, let alone use a reader…

  3. engtech said, on March 26, 2008 at 8:27 am

    @ Reid:

    Yeah, Google Reader has huge potential. I haven’t being using the share feature that much because I’m an old time Delicious fan, but I think I might have to give it another look.

    RSSMeme.com and ReadBurner.com do what Google Reader should inherently do. I’m not sure what the Google team is doing with Reader… the voting/social features look like easy sells, but they really botched that “automatically share everything with your contacts” feature.

  4. engtech said, on March 26, 2008 at 8:33 am

    @ David Leib:

    Very good point. Signal to noise ratio is important, that’s why Friend Feed changed the Last.FM feeds to only show loved songs instead of all songs playing.

    Some of the “bottom” services like LinkedIn, Amazon.com, LibraryThing, NetFlix and the music services are easily more useful than Twitter because they map directly onto real world actions that can affect my life. I’d like to see more services like them.

  5. Esdee said, on March 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

    too bad there is no info for Yahoo! Buzz
    I think some of the services’ performance results in this study would’ve been hurt if that was the case

  6. Fog of Eternity said, on March 26, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Glad to see that Picasa is gaining a small but growing following. Have been very impressed with it’s simple but powerful functionality, in terms of actual photo improvement/minor edits I think it has a significant advantage over Flickr.

  7. […] Internet Duct Tape recently posted an interesting analysis of a bunch of different FriendFeed stats broken down into 5 trends. I won’t cover them all here, but there were a few points that I found particularly interesting. […]

  8. […] Twitter is the service most often used by FriendFeed users. Not much of a surprise, given that most users likely post a lot more tweets than blog posts. A statistic I would like to see: how much talk on FriendFeed is about FriendFeed. […]

  9. Andy Baio said, on March 26, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    This isn’t a measurement of popularity, but a measure of update frequency. Flickr’s far more popular than Twitter, but people post tweets far more than they post photos, so it dominates FriendFeed.

  10. […] Crunching the Friend Feed Stats to Find the Most Popular Web Apps :: Internet Duct Tape – Eric does what he does best and crunched some facts and figures about FriendFeed. […]

  11. Sueblimely said, on March 26, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    It is a shame social bookmarking is dead, giving way to sites that aim at current popularity rather than the timeless best, making them less useful as a reference resource.

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  13. engtech said, on March 27, 2008 at 8:32 am

    @ Sueblimely:

    I was thinking about your comment, and I don’t think social bookmarking is dead. Social bookmarking inherently provides a more valuable source of new content then social voting. The fact that their are some barriers makes to bookmarking means the saved sites our more valued than when people click on an instant share button.

    When I was saying “social bookmarking is dead” I rather meant that there is no room for new players. All the new players are insignificant in terms of marketshare to the old and the only way a new player (eg: Google Reader) comes in is by significantly leveraging something else where they are the leader (eg: RSS reading).

  14. andymurd said, on March 27, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Excellent breakdown of the data, engtech. I notice from the original FriendFeedStats that blogging makes for 13% of updates, but I suspect that’s just people plugging in random RSS feeds, rather than their own blog posts.

    I’ve done the same thing with the feed of my Sphinn submissions. Hopefully the new FriendFeed API will make this unnecessary and a raft of new services will be made available by third parties.

  15. InternetActu.net said, on March 31, 2008 at 7:45 am

    La conversation a-t-elle quitté la blogosphère ?

    Sarah Perez de ReadWriteWeb s’interroge, à la suite de Jason Kaneshiro du Blog Herald : la conversation a-t-elle quitté la blogosphère ? La conversation, qui était l’apanage de la blogosphère (“les blogs démarrent des conversati…

  16. […] outils du web 2.0, pas nécessairement en trafic ou en audience, mais certainement en influence. Selon une étude empirique menée via les statistiques de FriendFeed, un agrégateur qui permet de suivre les flux de vos amis […]

  17. […] They already have a symbiotic relationship anyway – Twitter is the most popular service on FriendFeed. […]

  18. script submissions said, on April 02, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    script submissions…

    Many blogs have stopped using trackbacks because dealing with spam became too burdensome. One notable blogging tool that does not support…

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