Monday, July 02, 2007

The Long Tail of Facebook Applications

Lately, I've been developing a little application using the Facebook Platform (my Easter Egg and Four Secrets, One Lie application) and I started wondering about the statistics surrounding Facebook applications. So, a little WWW::Mechanize application later here's some facts that are true today:

1. There are 1,225 Facebook applications available in the Facebook directory.

2. There are 73,109,074 installed applications in Facebook users' profiles.

3. Hence the average application has about 59700 users.

The problem with the average is that it hides a savage reality of Facebook applications: some have many users, most have almost none. To analyze that I broke the data logarithmically counting the number of applications with greater than 1,000,000, 100,000, 10,000, 1,000, 100, 10 and 0 users.

At least X usersTotal applicationsPercent of total

So, 86% of applications on Facebook have less than 10,000 users, with 62% having less than 1,000 users. The 'big applications' (with over 100,000 users) account for 5% of all the applications, and only 2% make it over 1,000,000 users. So for most people developing a Facebook applications means very, very few users.

Graphing that you get a classic Long Tail picture:

The top 21 applications (over 1,000,000 users are):

ApplicationTotal users
Top Friends7,490,104
Fortune Cookie4,107,451
X Me3,628,523
Free Gifts3,106,403
Honesty Box1,904,742
My Questions1,556,722
Favorite Peeps!1,459,334
Food Fight!1,387,109
HOT or NOT1,138,625
Where I've Been1,027,373

Another way to examine the Facebook data is to ask who the most prolific authors are. The top most profilic authors are:

AuthorUser count
Goowy Media106,248
Sze Tan83,670
Patrick Shyu827,621
Kevin Koder8230,164
Pete Crucian7503
Lucy Silverman71,180
Sari Williams6599
Zach Smith619,397
James Tyler6487

Only Kevin Koder (with 230,164 users spread of 8 applications) is anywhere near being a 'top application' on Facebook. Kevin's top application is Family Guy Quotes.

The top 10 authors by number of users are:

AuthorTotal user
Jia Shen4583310
R. Tyler Ballance4556234
Ted Suzman4085317
Nikil Gandhy3351734
Zachary Allia3107219

Unsurprisingly Facebook is one of the most popular authors given their advantage of actually owning the site. Ignoring the companies on the list there are a few individuals who've hit the big time on Facebook. Whether that turns in to any money for them is another thing... but Facebook benefits from this Long Tail because the cost to them of the vast underbelly of barely used applications is close to 0: they don't even host those applications, you do.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.


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