Time for Lee Gomes and WSJ to write a correction?

Earlier in the week I corrected Lee Gomes piece that said Netscape moving to a new format cause the traffic to crash. He based his numbers on “share” numbers from HitWise from what I understand. These numbers are frequently off as everyone in the industry knows–heck, even Valleywag knows this!

Here is the SHARE chart–NOT A TRAFFIC CHART–the Lee sent me that he based his story on:

The reason? The various “sample based” services like Alexa all use software (i.e. toolbars) to build their best GUESS of a trend–and it’s a guess to be sure. The only way to really know what is going on is to look at log files. I’ve advised the Netscape team to put up a Java-script based third party traffic tool like SiteMeter to stop the press from making these mistakes.

Mistakes like this sent the who Web 2.0 into a tizzy last week for no reason–and Valleywag had to correct it! (thank God for Nick Denton’s ego regarding other people’s traffic!)

Additionally, the inside numbers show the follow (according to one of my old team members who forwarded them to me):

  • Apr/May/June 2006 – above 150mm page views per month
  • July/August 2006 – above 100mm page views per month
  • Sep/Oct/Nov 2006 – between 90mm-100mm page views per month
  • Dec 2006/Jan 2007 – above 100mm page views per month
  • Feb 2007 – between 90mm-100mm page views per month
  • Mar 2007 – incomplete, appears to be trending to above 100mm page views for the month

So, long story short the traffic has been almost exactly the same (90-110m) since the June switch, and when MAIL.NETSCAPE.COM switched over at the start of September you had a large drop off since users couldn’t access their email at the Netscape domain anymore.

The team over at QuantCast have sent me proof of this fact that Lee clearly got wrong–and then based his whole story on! See chart below.

Now, AOL should have corrected Lee on his incorrect facts–but they didn’t.

Lee: Can I get that correct now please?


I’m not saying Netscape has been a rockship, but it hasn’t been a 28% slide–not by a long shot. At best it had a 10% dip when the last of the mail users went away and that dip has been filled in by new users. That’s called growth.

Additionally, someone just came out with a survey of the top social sites showing that Netscape is neck and neck for the number one slot with digg–and that both sites crush ever other site out there (well, maybe not Delicious, but that’s bookmarking not news anyway).

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