Yesterday I looked at the latest Friendfeed stats using the nice Friendfeedstats tool build by Benjamin Golub. I looked up which feeds are aggregated most in Friendfeed in the last 30 days. In 30 days approximately 1.3 Mln items were shared on Friendfeed.
Turns out there is a clear winner, but it might not be what you think. It isn’t links to sites, blogs, content, video, pictures, or shared Google reader items. It’s Twitter! 54% of all content aggregated on Friendfeed is Twitter (that’s almost 740.000 tweets a month). The second place is taken by Blog posts, leading to 15% of all content aggregation. The top feeds aggregated into Friendfeed now looks like:
- Twitter (54%)
- Blogs (15%)
- Google reader (9%)
- Tumblr (4%)
- StumbleUpon, Digg, Del.icio.us all score (3%)
- Flickr, YouTube score (2%)
- Friendfeed, Gmail/GTalk, Last FM, Jaiku all score (1%)
24 other services score less than 1% of the total content aggregated. The amount of content being generated increased fast after launch. While January and February of 2008 showed less that 50.000 entries being shared, in March the number of shared items reached 1 Mln, and April shows 1.3 Mln entries. I don’t know exactly how many users generated these items.
I went to compete to compare Friendfeed, Twitter and TechMeme and got the following results:
It’s a bit unfair to compare Friendfeed to services that have existed a bit longer. It’s hard to draw conclusions yet, but looking at the number of visits Friendfeed is quickly nearing TechMeme, while Twitter is still in another league. Looking at the attention data however, TechMeme does a lot better than Friedfeed.
I looked at the Friendfeed stats earlier and concluded then that it was an echo chamber of things we already know. Most bloggers seem to like Friendfeed for 2 things:
- The filtering of information that is done by the people they follow
- The ability to comment on entries
The statistics seem to suggest that only a marginal number of people comments on entries, as Friendfeed input only makes up 1% of all content aggregation. It’s fair to say that I am not sure how Benjamin calculates the Friendfeed statistics. It could be that comments and likes aren’t part of his analysis (will ask him).
I wrote a post earlier in which I stated that Friendfeed seems capable of becoming a competitor for TechMeme. The main reason for this assumption is that right now Friendfeed compiles mostly blog posts and Google blog reader shared items (if we forget about Twitter). If we assume that Friendfeed is used mostly by the early adaptors, then it shows the most important blog posts for this tech group. Friendfeed has some advantages over TechMeme. It allows anyone to post his or her blog, whereas TechMeme complies only the most popular ones (using some algorithm). Within Friendfeed you can comment on entires, so it provides more interaction than TechMeme does.
At the same time, TechMeme probably reduces the noise level as on a typical day only some 150 posts even make it to TechMeme. Friendfeed aggregates anything that is fed into it, leading to 10000 blog posts per day. TechMeme might be a bit strict, but Friendfeed doesn’t make any distinction. You receive everything the people you follow decide to share.
While the Friendfeed team did an incredible job implementing so many different feed sources that can be imported, it becomes clear from the data that the Tech Elite requires only 3 sources right now. Twitter, blog entries and Google Reader.
The Friendfeed founders had a pretty clear idea what Friendfeed should be (from the Friendfeed site):
FriendFeed enables you to keep up-to-date on the web pages, photos, videos and music that your friends and family are sharing. It offers a unique way to discover and discuss information among friends.
It becomes obvious that the early adopters are not filling in this promise. To this community, Friendfeed is nothing more than a new distribution platform for blog posts. It is precisely for this reason that I am not so optimistic about Friendfeed being able to deliver on the consumer promise made above. Right now it offers a technical solution for the import of many different feeds into one place. But I believe that the setup offers non-tech people too much functionality. I doubt that consumers are interested in so many different feeds. The fragmentation in web 2.0 is pretty clear within Friendfeed. Just because they can import so many feeds doesn’t mean that people will actually do that. I think Friendfeed could easily become the most important tool for the tech community. I can think of two simple improvements:
- Instead of showing me all duplicate shared entries (echo, echo), why not show or search the statistics (N people have shared this blog post) This allows me to see what is shared most, or is most read right now)
- Same thing for comments. Which entries gets the most comments or likes. Show me the entries that are discussed most right now, that’s the place where a tech blogger wants to be.
With a few minor improvements Friendfeed could become a much better news source than TechMeme, Technorati, etc. But in its current form it won’t easily break out of the tech community into the consumer market.
Friendfeed might be a novel way to aggregate content in one place. But right now it is just Twitter and bookmarks. Nothing more, nothing less.