FriendFeed’s Just Fine

friendfeedWith all the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt around FriendFeed.com one would think FriendFeed is this service that is going the way of Jaiku, Pownce, Dodgeball, and others that went dead after their owners acquired them.  There’s no doubt that amongst certain users in the US the activity in their streams is going down and some are talking about it.  Just last month, Robert Scoble, FriendFeed’s number one user and unpaid evangelist publicly announced his resignation from the service and move over to bigger services like Twitter.  Even yesterday, Louis Gray, perhaps FriendFeed’s second most active unpaid evangelist (and both good friends of mine), shared a statistic seemingly indicating his disappointment with the service.  Yet, when you look at the big picture, things are up and to the right.  There are no statistics anywhere that indicate FriendFeed is anywhere close to losing users when you look at the numbers and the long-haul.

Louis Gray shared a Compete.com graph of unique visitors yesterday which indicated that in November, FriendFeed had shown less users accessing the site than its low point a year ago.  What isn’t shared though is that Compete is normally only indicative of US users, and FriendFeed is well known as an international site, extremely active in regions such as Turkey and the mideast.  Remember the activity FriendFeed got around the Iran crisis?  Even Bret Taylor, co-founder of FriendFeed, now working for Facebook admitted that since August, International activity on FriendFeed is now dominating.  See the graph below.

Screen shot 2009-12-11 at 5.03.03 PM

If you look at both Alexa and Quantcast 2 year stats, which when taken as a whole are generally a bit more acceptable a statistics engine in terms of general and international traffic, they both show an up-and-to-the-right trend for FriendFeed that hasn’t stopped since last year.  There are a few down points, such as when 2 months in a row, TechCrunch wrote a scathing post about FriendFeed, comparing it to “the mob”, and Mike Arrington’s fallout after that (he was one of the top-followed users on FriendFeed up until that point).  The next month Facebook acquired FriendFeed, and the lash back from users ensued, many discontinuing their use of the site, especially in the United States and Silicon Valley.  The other major dip occurred in November, where Robert Scoble, FriendFeed’s most followed user, announced publicly that he was moving his activity over to Twitter and lessening his activity over on FriendFeed. FriendFeed still appears to be recovering from that, but it’s way too early to determine if that started a down and to the right trend – I doubt it.  If you look at the Alexa stats, the 3 dips I mentioned occurred right around the the 3 events I just mentioned.  Coincidence?

Screen shot 2009-12-11 at 12.20.01 AM

Yet, when you look at FFHolic, the site which ranks FriendFeed users and their activity, you’ll notice a change in the trends.  The top users all remain the same – people from the United States and especially Silicon Valley which use the site rarely, yet are very popular.  But when you look at the most active users, you no longer see the Monas and the Louis Grays and the Robert Scobles you used to see in that section.  The most active users on FriendFeed are now their international audience.  The second most active user, VAHID, has a feed of mostly non-English posts!  So you can see that yes, when a very popular Silicon Valley blogger leaves the service, a huge chunk of the US audience leaves with them, and so does their activity, yet, the most active users aren’t even listening to or following those guys.  FriendFeed continues to grow.

I predict there will be a shift, if this continues, where the most active users on FriendFeed soon will become the most followed people on FriendFeed.  The more the popular users neglect the service, the more the more active users will have a chance to catch up to them.  FriendFeed’s founding team has made it clear they’re not killing the service.  In fact, they’ve been keeping it running and even improving it since they were acquired by Facebook.  Check out the open source Tornado Framework FriendFeed is based on – it is still getting updates from the FriendFeed and Facebook teams.  The FriendFeed team is all using the service still.  FriendFeed was just included in the deal with Google for real-time search results, which means FriendFeed is most likely a revenue-generating site for Facebook now.

If anything, the Facebook acquisition of FriendFeed should have you more comfortable, not less, that it is going to be around for a long, long time.  There is no reason for it to go away.  If it does, they’ll make it easy to get the same features you are getting on FriendFeed over on Facebook itself so you can take comfort you’re not going to lose anything.  But if anything should comfort you it’s that FriendFeed continues in an up-and-to-the-right pattern when you look at the big picture and not the short-term dips the big Silicon Valley bloggers keep bringing up.  I still see stats for my blog on FriendFeed.  As long as FriendFeed is successful Facebook has no reason to remove it as a service.  There’s still too much opportunity here.  It’s still way too powerful a tool to kill and I think we’re all jumping the gun with the “it’s dead” statements.  There are no facts supporting that statement.

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19 thoughts on “FriendFeed’s Just Fine

  1. Maybe FF is more of a public social networking lab for what's to come on FB. Try things out with the techies and early adopters, move what works on to FB…such as the real time stream.

    Glad to see it is still showing some growth, even if it's not here in the U.S.

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  2. Mike, possibly. I think Facebook is doing a “watch and see” on FriendFeed right now – they'll either incorporate the features of Friendfeed if they think it makes sense for their current and future audience, in which case they'll just migrate all of FriendFeed's users over, or if FriendFeed continues on an upward path it will be another, more public medium for them that they can build other business strategies around. I don't think anyone has anything to worry about FriendFeed – they won't “just shut it off” unless they can no longer see upward progress over the long term.

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  3. 1. I don't think sharing an independent traffic analysis report is “seemingly indicating his disappointment with the service”. That is not true.

    2. One has to be completely naive not to see a reduction in activity vs. its peak, and an acceleration of its decline following the acquisition.

    3. You recall I specifically said I would find value even if I were the last to use it, so that's not the issue: http://blog.louisgray.com/2009/11/finding-value

    You want me to feel more comfortable about FriendFeed now that Facebook owns it? Have somebody somewhere at Facebook tell us… anything… period. Let's not put our heads in the sand.

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  4. Louis, it sounds like you're disappointed by this statement of yours alone.
    Where in the stats are you seeing an acceleration of its decline? I see ups
    and downs, but it's still up and to the right as a whole (see all the up
    arrows?). I don't think I'm naive in seeing that.

    Like

  5. I am not disappointed in the service. You know that.

    Showing that FriendFeed is gaining in percentage points outside of the US does not mean it is thriving. It puts it in the realm of Friendster and Orkut… and you know how well those sites are respected.

    There is no possible way that FriendFeed is up and to the right. If you showed me 100 graphs that said it was up and to the right, I would not believe them to be true. This is a fool's errand.

    Like

  6. Friendster has stats to prove its decline, even in the countries it's
    popular. Orkut isn't showing global increase, but in the countries it's
    popular it's extremely well respected – ask @skepticgeek about that. Those
    arguments don't hold water.

    Look at your statement – you're completely basing your opinion on FriendFeed
    on just that – an opinion. Show me the facts that FriendFeed is declining,
    and not just in your inner circle. I respect you Louis, and I agree that
    FriendFeed has seen a fallout in US and especially Silicon Valley circles,
    but globally its brand is increasing, and there are no signs of that
    stopping. We here in the US need to see that and realize FriendFeed's not
    going away.

    How is my basing on real stats and you basing your opinion on your own
    reality a “fools errand”? The only reason people in the US and especially
    Silicon Valley leave these sites is because bloggers in Silicon Valley tell
    them to. I'm not buying it, and I know you aren't either. Users only join
    services when they feel comfortable they're stable – my stats show
    FriendFeed is stable. I'm putting my money on that.

    Like

  7. Showing that FriendFeed is gaining in percentage points outside of the US does not mean it is thriving. So if service doesn't grow in US, but somewhere else then… it is not thriving, right? I'm afraid you still live in past and dotcom champagne bubbles are still in your head. We have heard enough US-centric crickets – obviously you can continue to execute your holy right for opinion, but granted what I see on global level, US-only things has lesser and lesser value, and people content with that opinion digg their self-isolation grave deeper and deeper. Let's hope I'm wrong 😉

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  8. Friendster and Orkut came to mind for me as I read Jesse's notes about the Turkish FriendFeed activity. Not everything in the world revolves around the United States. It remains to be seen, however, whether many users translates into much money – although the Google deal that Jesse noted could potentially bear fruit.

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  9. Jesse, as Louis alludes to, sounds like you're pointing to international activity as a marker that FF may be taking a Friendster/Orkut like route longterm. In my view that still gives FF the opportunity to be a longterm winner, though I must agree with Louis that it would give U.S. users/power users a lot more confidence if we could see Facebook talking it up. Or talking about it at all.

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  10. Eric, I'm not sure even that's accurate. I think the US users have just
    shifted. I am still getting just as much activity as before – it has its
    ups and downs, but I still have lots of active discussions with people on
    FriendFeed. The service is what you make of it. I think the only
    difference now is it doesn't have the early adopter audience it used to so
    you're not seeing it as much in mainstream blogs like TechCrunch or
    Mashable, or people like Scoble and others. Those guys have moved on to the
    next shiny thing. I'm not even saying there's anything wrong with that, but
    there's a difference between activity and attention.

    Like

  11. Friendfeed isn't going anywhere. I was worried that it was for the last few months, but now, one can just tell it isn't going anywhere. I don't care if Robert Scoble is there or not. He doesn't make the service for me, never did.

    Like

  12. Matthew, yeah – it doesn't matter if Robert is there or not. The best
    services will survive regardless, and I think FriendFeed is one of those. I
    do predict much more cross-integration with Facebook, but you'll never have
    everything just taken out from under you. It's safe to continue using the
    service, sending your friends there, etc. and it will continue to grow and
    thrive. That is my view.

    Like

  13. Eric, I'm not sure even that's accurate. I think the US users have just
    shifted. I am still getting just as much activity as before – it has its
    ups and downs, but I still have lots of active discussions with people on
    FriendFeed. The service is what you make of it. I think the only
    difference now is it doesn't have the early adopter audience it used to so
    you're not seeing it as much in mainstream blogs like TechCrunch or
    Mashable, or people like Scoble and others. Those guys have moved on to the
    next shiny thing. I'm not even saying there's anything wrong with that, but
    there's a difference between activity and attention.

    Like

  14. Friendfeed isn't going anywhere. I was worried that it was for the last few months, but now, one can just tell it isn't going anywhere. I don't care if Robert Scoble is there or not. He doesn't make the service for me, never did.

    Like

  15. 1. I don't think sharing an independent traffic analysis report is “seemingly indicating his disappointment with the service”. That is not true.

    2. One has to be completely naive not to see a reduction in activity vs. its peak, and an acceleration of its decline following the acquisition.

    3. You recall I specifically said I would find value even if I were the last to use it, so that's not the issue: http://blog.louisgray.com/2009/11/finding-value

    You want me to feel more comfortable about FriendFeed now that Facebook owns it? Have somebody somewhere at Facebook tell us… anything… period. Let's not put our heads in the sand.

    Like

  16. I am not disappointed in the service. You know that.

    Showing that FriendFeed is gaining in percentage points outside of the US does not mean it is thriving. It puts it in the realm of Friendster and Orkut… and you know how well those sites are respected.

    There is no possible way that FriendFeed is up and to the right. If you showed me 100 graphs that said it was up and to the right, I would not believe them to be true. This is a fool's errand.

    Like

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