FriendFeed Isn’t Dying, Although It’s a Nice Line

Louis Gray writes about issues with FriendFeed not taking in a big way, which Stowe Boyd calls in a post describing it as why FriendFeed is dying.

It isn’t, but it’s a nice line.

Let’s start with one premise: that FriendFeed’s traffic is tanking. It’s not. Using Compete (as Stowe has) to get a full traffic measurement is like asking a person in a Palo Alto street whether they like toast, then using that data to say that people in China or Russia don’t like toast. As I’ve said time and time again: Compete only offers US data, and even then it doesn’t even come close with that.

Every other traffic measure shows growth at FriendFeed leveling off but not tanking, or in the case of Alexa, growing. Yes, I know Alexa is unreliable, but here’s the thing: it’s less unreliable than Compete, who take data from a much smaller sample and ignores non-US traffic. For the record, Quantcast (not direct measured) and comScore show leveling. Either way: only Compete shows a drop…and I don’t believe it.

Can FriendFeed be improved? Yes, but not in some of the ways Louis suggests. Simplifying FriendFeed with a retarded version (sorry Lite version) completely defeats the point of FriendFeed: it’s a content aggregator, presenting less aggregated content is a regressive step.

What can be improved in management of that content? Easier, more intuitive ways for users to filter; implementation of something like NoiseRiver could help, although naturally it would need to be a simpler implementation.

Where I do in part agree with Louis is FriendFeed’s place in the social graph. FriendFeed does need an iPhone Application. But it needs to go further than that.

FriendFeed isn’t dying, but it can do things to increase its growth rate.

FriendFeed needs to properly take the mantle as a two way social aggregator. The problem today is that content comes into FriendFeed, but rarely goes back out, with the exception of Twitter. Two way interaction with all services, from commenting on a YouTube video and that comment going up on YouTube, Facebook, a blog….any service that has the ability for inputs and has an API is ripe for two way interaction.

FriendFeed also needs to improve its availability outside FriendFeed itself. Sure, an API opens up third party development, but this is one area that has started to stall. There is no reason why we shouldn’t see native (ie: not iframe) integration of FriendFeed into social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. The magic key here is taking the product to where people are, and like it or not they’re on social networks. FriendFeed should be complimentary to these services as opposed to a competitor, even if for some it has become a social network in itself.

Conclusion

Lets put all of this in a little perspective. FriendFeed launched in October 2007. By a count of my fingers, that makes it 14 months old. Twitter launched in 2006 and took around 18-24 months to rapidly take off. This is very early days for FriendFeed. It may have not become a huge breakout success of 2008, but very few startups do. That it has shown steady growth to date bides well for it going forward. The smart and likable team behind the scenes, and ex-Googlers at that will have more in store this year, and presuming nothing like it challenges it head on, I predict strong growth for FriendFeed in the 12 months ahead. If you disagree so be it, but don’t be showing me <strike>bullshit</strike> stats from Compete to justify it.

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