So what does this new metric mean? Is it a keeper? Digital Media Wire had some interesting quotes:
Ranking top sites by total minutes instead of page views gives Time Warner Inc.’s AOL a boost, largely because time spent on its popular instant-messaging software now gets counted. AOL ranks first in the United States with 25 billion minutes based on May data, ahead of Yahoo’s 20 billion. By page views, AOL would have been sixth.
Google, meanwhile, drops to fifth in time spent, primarily because its search engine is focused on giving visitors quick answers and links for going elsewhere. By page views, Google ranks third.
For RIAs, this will be a good thing. As companies start to deploy applications on other platforms, you'll see boosts like you would with AOL and their messenger client. But is this the best way to measure?
The whole idea of metrics for a Rich Internet Application is still very new. In reality I think the best measure is active users with active being defined as users that have logged in to the application in the past 3 months. I do like that this new metric takes into account more than just web properties (if you set it up correctly). The data we're interacting with is becoming much more distributed and it behooves web companies to create multiple touch points. The better we can get at measuring the success of the entire web property, the better we're going to be. Right now, from an RIA standpoint, the time spent metric is better than the page view, so I'll take it as an evolutionary step.