iLike – Last.fm – MOG Facebook Smackdown!

It’s been about 10 days since Facebook debuted its applications and the clear winner is iLike, which has well over a million users. It’s taking turns with the Mobile platform at the top of the most-users list:

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Last.fm, who lost a week while getting their app ready to go, are rising quickly but far far behind with just over 40,000 users:

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If you’re REALLY bored it’s kind of fun to spend a couple of minutes looking at the ‘most used applications’ list. You can refresh continuously and watch the numbers climb. Last night Last.fm was picking up about 5 users per refresh while iLike was picking up around 20.

MOG’s application which launched the same day as iLike’s, meanwhile, is floundering. It peaked at just over 20,000 users and now seems to be losing users at a rapid rate. This morning Facebook says it has about 5,400 users. Ouch Update: In comments David Jennings points out that there are 2 MOG applications, and the one that had 20,000 users now has around 22,000. My error. Sorry and thanks for the catch David!

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I wondered what implications the success of a Facebook application has on the website itself. So I bopped over to Alexa. I don’t trust their numbers very much in an absolute sense, but as a means of comparing one site to another at least most of the biases are going to be comparable (though I wonder about the international distribution of Alexa’s data points and how that affects this). Anyway, it’s the best data we’ve got I think, flaws and all.

When you compare these three sites over the last three months, it looks suspiciously as though all those new users on Facebook might be pulling users away from iLike.com itself. Below are the comparative graphs for iLike, Last.fm, and MOG in terms of reach and rank. You can see that Last.fm is higher than the others (though the difference is much less than it used to be), but look at what happened to iLike in recent days. Not only does it seem to be dropping dramatically, MOG has overtaken it in rank.

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As a social scientist I know better than to conflate correlation with causality. There could be several interpretations of these figures. But it certainly makes me wonder if iLike users are switching to using the application within Facebook rather than going to the iLike site. Some sites, like ReverbNation, have designed themselves to be most successful when spread throughout the internet. Is iLike such a site? What are the implications for destination sites if integration with other destination sites means loss of their own traffic?

I think we will see more and more of this sort of merging of multiple sites into one at user discretion. Pageflakes, iGoogle, and other start pages are doing this. I waxed about my dream of doing this (only better) here. But it requires new ways of thinking about what it means to be a successful internet company.

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Comments (3) to “iLike – Last.fm – MOG Facebook Smackdown!”

  1. Great piece of investigative analysis, and your speculative interpretation is very interesting.

    I just checked Facebook’s music apps (http://www.facebook.com/apps/index.php?category=16), and there appear to be two MOG apps. One for My Top Songs This Week, which has 5,500 users, and one for My Last Songs Played, which has 22,000+ users. Could that be linked to the decline you observed?

  2. David — You’re right, that’s the MOG decline I thought I saw. Glad you caught that. Though at 22,000+ users, the MOG app doesn’t seem to be picking up new users at anywhere near the rate of the other 2.

    I like your blog BTW, and am looking forward to the book!

    Nancy

  3. Great article, Nancy!

    As usual, Alexa is neither completely accurate, nor completely off. Indeed the traffic on iLike.com has dipped, but for simpler reasons than you might suspect. The reasons are:

    a) given the explosive growth on Facebook, we intentionally disabled various aspects of iLike.com — including all email notifications, newsletters, etc — deliberately hoping to temporarily reduce our traffic to conserve server capacity for our Facebook app.

    b) despite these efforts, the massive Facebook traffic caused daily outages all last week, not only on Facebook’s own servers but also on ours, taking out both the iLike FB app and iLike.com.

    While I won’t be surprised to see a time when iLike.com users are “switching” in significant numbers to use iLike on Facebook, I don’t think that’s happening yet.

    As of now, the users of iLike.com still greatly outnumber the users of iLike on Facebook (perhaps not for long!). Also, we have not yet announced our Facebook app to the iLike mailing list, nor have we interlinked the two databases — so users on iLike.com can’t (yet) easily switch their accounts over to Facebook. As these things change over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to watch — indeed a lot of iLike.com users might switch permanently to using iLike on Facebook instead!

    regards,

    Ali Partovi
    CEO, iLike.com