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Top Ten Add-ons III

On September 15 of the last two years, I’ve posted about the year’s Top Ten Add-ons and made comments and observations on them. Continuing the tradition, here are this year’s top ten lists:

2009 Rank By Total Downloads By Active Daily Users
Source: extension and theme downloads and update pings from addons.mozilla.org for add-ons that a user must opt-in to installing. (excludes other add-on types and extensions that are bundled with 3rd party software)
1 FlashGot Adblock Plus
2 Adblock Plus↑1 Video DownloadHelper↑1
3 NoScript↓1 IE Tab↓1
4 Video DownloadHelper↑4 Download Statusbar
5 DownThemAll!↓1 DownThemAll!↑1
6 IE Tab↓1 Greasemonkey↑2
7 Greasemonkey↑7 FlashGot↓2
8 Download Statusbar↓2 Firebug↑1
9 Forecastfox NoScript
10 Noia 2.0 (eXtreme)↓3 Cooliris↑5


It takes a lot for an add-on to move up positions in total downloads, as this list includes over 1.5 billion downloads served since addons.mozilla.org began tracking downloads in 2004. Because of that, just like last year, here are two more lists that paint a better picture of recent popularity.

Rank Downloads since Sept. 15, 2008 Downloads this week
Source: extension and theme downloads from addons.mozilla.org for add-ons that a user must opt-in to installing. (excludes other add-on types and extensions that are bundled with 3rd party software)
1 Adblock Plus Adblock Plus
2 Video DownloadHelper Video DownloadHelper
3 FlashGot FastestFox – Browse Faster
4 NoScript Personas for Firefox
5 DownThemAll! FlashGot
6 Greasemonkey NoScript
7 Firebug Greasemonkey
8 IE Tab Stylish
9 Cooliris Firebug
10 Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) Download Statusbar

In last year’s post, I had a lot of commentary on the data and introduced some new metrics. I didn’t take as much time to prepare for this year’s post due to a very busy schedule, so I’ll withhold most of my commentary for another post, but I did want to make one comment and introduce a new top ten list.

From the first table above, you can see that IE Tab is losing active users and new downloads. IE Tab is a very useful add-on for some users, but its existence represents a huge problem that plagued the web years ago, and continues to cause issues today, especially in corporate environments. It’s great to see more websites playing nicely, and I consider IE Tab’s decreasing popularity a tangible measure of success in this area.

The new top ten list is based on add-on user retention. By that, I mean the percentage of users who download an add-on from AMO and keep it (total downloads vs. remaining active users). Basing this on total downloads means older add-ons will be punished for past mistakes they learned from, and newer add-ons that followed good examples set by those older add-ons will benefit. Alas, we’ll be doing more in this area soon and helping authors with best practices on user retention — from technical practices, marketing practices, and even changes to your add-on’s listing on AMO.

There are 250 add-ons on AMO with more than one million downloads, so in this retention list I only analyzed add-ons with over one million downloads to keep the playing field a bit more level. Without further ado:

Rank User Retention (add-ons with 1M+ downloads)
Source: extension and theme downloads from addons.mozilla.org for add-ons that a user must opt-in to installing. (excludes other add-on types and extensions that are bundled with 3rd party software)
1 Update Notifier
2 Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper
3 MR Tech Toolkit
4 BetterPrivacy
5 Live HTTP Headers
6 ImTranslator
7 eBay Sidebar for Firefox
8 SkipScreen
9 Undo Closed Tabs Button
10 MeasureIt

Based on this list, it seems niche add-ons and add-ons that only serve one purpose do well on retention. Undo Closed Tabs Button does only one thing, and that one thing is the name of the add-on. As another example, people know what eBay is. When they think of an add-on that claims to keep track of your eBay bids in a sidebar, there’s a pretty clear picture of what that add-on does. So, if someone downloads it, there’s a good chance it’s what they were expecting, unless it’s executed so badly that they have to uninstall it.

Until next September 15th…

3 comments

Wladimir Palant

There is also another way to interpret the retention list: people don’t uninstall add-ons if they don’t have any reason to do that. I am mostly sure that ADU numbers for Element Hiding Helper are inflated, most people installing it don’t use it. But it doesn’t do any harm – that extension does absolutely nothing unless activated.

johnjbarton

I’m puzzled: why no mention of update pings? Are these values reliable? What do they tell us?
jjb

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