I'd be wary of placing too much faith in the "daily unique users" count -- ours is notably lower than either our Google Analytics (which is supposed to be used in the Trends reporting) or Nielsen, and the counts on sites like Amplifier are plainly wrong. As Mashable put it: Google Trends Adds Another Way to Inaccurately Track Website Traffic.
But in theory, Google should be able, over time, to produce far better data than Alexa (whose sample is Windows users dumb enough to run Alexa's spyware toolbar) and already the likes of the comparison of tv3.co.nz and 3news.co.nz is quite nice. It looks like the news site will overtake total traffic via tv3.co.nz any day now.
Google is quite upfront about the provisional nature of the information. And there are shortcomings: it only works at the domain level, so your blogspot or WordPress URL won't show up with anything. And if you do operate a site big enough to be noticed by Trends, you can't stop Google reporting it, and even using your Google Analytics data. Unless, of course, you are a Google-owned site; in which case, no one else gets to know your business.
Meanwhile, congratulations to Seth Wagoner and the Interclue team in Christchurch. Their "Personal Link Preview Multitool" is a prominently-promoted add-on for the Firefox 3.0 download. It's pretty cool too.
And a gripe. A little belatedly (but in time with the rest of the world) I've fallen in love with MGMT, largely courtesy Hype Machine. I'm cool with keeping the handful of remixes and mash-ups I downloaded via Hype Machine, but it's only decent to buy the actual album, Oracular Spectacular.
But where? I'm pretty much on strike with the iTunes Store unless it's iTunes Plus (ie: it's on EMI or an indie label) -- at 128k the file quality's just not good enough, and aren't we over DRM yet? Digirama is even worse: they only have the album as 128k WMA files I can't even play. Emusic has only one early indie EP, which I have purchased. (BTW, if you feel like joining Emusic, let me know -- I'd get free downloads for recommending you, and I wouldn't mind some of them.)
This isn't the fault of either service: it's because Sony BMG isn't allowing a high-quality non-DRM version to be sold via download -- except on Amazon, whose MP3 store isn't available in New Zealand, and likely won't be until the end of the year.
Yes, I could actually go to a record shop and pay 50% extra for a CD, but in 2008 I shouldn't have to burn fossil fuel to buy buts. If they can do it with one large digital retailer in a few large territories, why not just make the change, and stop making the customer the meat in the sandwich in a political battle with iTunes?
PS: In this week's Media7, we're talking about the BSA, with a panel comprised of Lyndsay Freer and Oliver Driver (who have respective, and quite separate, beefs with the regulator) and the BSA chief executive Dominic Sheehan. If you'd like to join us for the recording, at The Classic early tomorrow evening, hit "reply" and let me know.
PPS: I didn't get Hadyn Green's guest post about the unresolved matters the the England rugby tourists leave behind until after I sent out this morning's email, but I've posted it today as a matter of currency.