Breaking Down the Chrome Web Store

An exploratory analysis of extensions (part 2)

Part 1 of this series broke down the Chrome Web Store’s metrics on reach (installations / users), paid vs free extensions, and language. In this part we look into extension categories, ratings, authorship and more.

Categories

The Chrome Web Store has 84 categories. A quick look shows the most popular category is “Productivity” accounting for ~40k extensions and 676M installs.

Let’s break down the number of extensions in each category excluding the ~18k that are uncategorized.

category# of extensions
productivity 39,765
fun 24,773
photos 21,742
web_development 12,252
communication 11,953
accessibility 9,716
search_tools 8,319
shopping 6,313
games 4,749
news 3,308
education 3,146
business_tools 2,695
blogging 1,913
arcade_action 1,882
sports 1,843
lifestyle 1,717
entertainment 1,492
utilities 1,363
academic_resources 1,149
office_applications 1,133
puzzle_brain 1,048
arcade_games 1,033
action_and_adventure_games 849
puzzle_games 738
teacher_and_admin_tools 668
creative_tools 632
marketing_and_analytics 571
teacher_tools 524
accounting_and_finance 507
music_and_radio 502
board_card 485
news_reporting 425
food_and_health 411
role_playing_strategy 408
music 384
sales_and_crm 357
administration_and_management 311
educational_games 310
task_management 299
travel 294
health_fitness 287
search_and_browsing_tools 270
board_games 246
foreign_languages 246
social_networks 242
sports_game 241
strategy_games 241
card_games 239
online_documents_and_file_storage 224
blogs 223
calculators 177
online_videos 172
tv_movies 169
role_playing_games 167
test_preparation 163
family 156
virtual_worlds 156
school_administration 144
chat_and_im 142
hr_and_legal 140
calendar_and_scheduling 139
money 129
food 124
books 119
radio 118
by_artists 118
religion 117
alarms_and_clocks 116
design_essentials 106
erp_and_logistics 103
notepads 99
news_aggregators 91
phone_and_sms 89
email_and_contacts 82
bookmarks 72
dictionaries 66
newspapers 61
weather_forecasts 54
magazines 50
fashion 48
social_news 44
astrology 42
dating 33
by_google 26

Taking a look at categories by installs, we see that productivity is 5x more popular than the next biggest category.

categoryinstalls
productivity 676,147,676
communication 111,671,905
photos 109,103,337
fun 105,043,823
web_development 96,030,111
education 92,387,979
accessibility 83,818,353
shopping 82,272,965
entertainment 62,567,535
search_tools 56,028,934
office_applications 43,787,834
teacher_and_admin_tools 37,722,599
teacher_tools 37,253,849
games 31,956,052
academic_resources 29,329,452
utilities 18,612,225
creative_tools 16,075,901
music_and_radio 15,835,473
music 15,405,296
news 11,800,107
puzzle_brain 11,106,842
online_videos 10,683,185
arcade_action 9,458,576
puzzle_games 8,831,266
sports 8,011,173
books 7,075,610
business_tools 6,044,918
arcade_games 5,187,204
foreign_languages 4,443,957
action_and_adventure_games 4,271,372
role_playing_strategy 3,477,493
accounting_and_finance 3,399,186
board_card 3,329,450
lifestyle 3,166,890
tv_movies 3,121,885
search_and_browsing_tools 2,863,272
family 2,823,010
task_management 2,812,489
by_artists 2,799,974
calculators 2,630,775
news_reporting 2,452,372
chat_and_im 2,427,633
social_networks 2,398,029
educational_games 2,275,576
sports_game 2,257,231
blogging 2,254,597
news_aggregators 2,247,684
online_documents_and_file_storage 2,224,125
strategy_games 2,031,811
card_games 1,927,321
notepads 1,917,882
weather_forecasts 1,658,244
role_playing_games 1,445,682
board_games 1,402,129
alarms_and_clocks 1,284,219
design_essentials 1,158,893
virtual_worlds 1,061,502
by_google 934,725
email_and_contacts 887,331
money 816,862
food_and_health 667,544
phone_and_sms 614,531
health_fitness 586,593
bookmarks 529,347
calendar_and_scheduling 525,551
marketing_and_analytics 516,461
dictionaries 501,876
school_administration 468,750
radio 430,177
travel 412,941
sales_and_crm 378,473
religion 349,069
test_preparation 345,080
hr_and_legal 163,105
newspapers 122,894
administration_and_management 119,053
food 80,951
erp_and_logistics 75,896
blogs 66,189
astrology 44,267
social_news 41,701
dating 31,096
magazines 15,605
fashion 3,155

Power laws play heavily here and a majority of installs are attributed to the most popular extension in each category. The following table show the most popular extension in each category. Some of these category winners lead multiple categories while others appear tied only because the Chrome Web Store does not report install counts beyond 10M installs for any given extension. WeVideo dominates the 'online_video' category with ~60% of the category's install base, while Movistar+ leads the 'fun' category with only a 1.8% share.

categoryextensioninstalls
productivity AdBlock 10M+
productivity Adblock Plus - free ad blocker 10M+
productivity Adobe Acrobat 10M+
productivity G Suite Training 10M+
productivity Google Translate 10M+
productivity Grammarly for Chrome 10M+
productivity LastPass: Free Password Manager 10M+
productivity Pinterest Save button 10M+
productivity Tampermonkey 10M+
productivity uBlock Origin 10M+
productivity, web_development Text 10M+
shopping Avast SafePrice 10M+
shopping Honey 10M+
entertainment, photos Google Photos 10M+
accessibility Read&Write for Google Chrome™ 10M+
communication Cisco Webex Extension 10M+
communication Skype 10M+
education, teacher_tools, teacher_and_admin_tools Google Classroom 10M+
online_videos WeVideo - Video Editor and Maker 6,365,591
office_applications Google Drawings 6,037,852
search_tools Search Encrypt 4,368,672
music, music_and_radio Google Play 4,358,041
books Kindle Cloud Reader 3,908,443
academic_resources Desmos Graphing Calculator 3,806,791
utilities ScanQR 2,563,113
foreign_languages Duolingo on the Web 2,416,798
puzzle_brain, puzzle_games, games Entanglement Web App 2,276,047
fun Player para ver Movistar+ 1,920,870
creative_tools MindMeister 1,674,734
family DOGOnews 1,383,257
social_networks TweetDeck by Twitter 1,381,555
accounting_and_finance, business_tools Click&Clean App 1,323,158
tv_movies TV 1,312,229
search_and_browsing_tools mydlink services plugin 1,093,352
news, news_reporting, news_aggregators Google News 917,371
notepads Sticky Notes 863,619
weather_forecasts Full Screen Weather 773,916
blogging Google Voice (by Google) 701,640
calculators Calculator 689,957
card_games, board_card Solitaire 618,533
design_essentials Chrome Apps & Extensions Developer Tool 609,556
arcade_action, arcade_games Canvas Rider 585,230
chat_and_im WhatsChrome 555,504
educational_games Typing Test - KeyHero 550,270
task_management Wunderlist - To-do and Task list 524,525
money, lifestyle Google Finance 493,632
action_and_adventure_games Free Rider HD 472,382
alarms_and_clocks Timer 436,182
role_playing_games, role_playing_strategy グランブルーファンタジー[ChromeApps版] 397,469
sports_game WGT Golf Challenge 360,595
strategy_games Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances 358,288
sports Baseball Wallpaper HD - MLB New Tab 301,355
by_artists Cath Kidston 280,015
phone_and_sms mysms - SMS from Computer 265,928
online_documents_and_file_storage Network File Share for Chrome OS 263,209
email_and_contacts Google Groups 231,937
dictionaries Dictionary 209,591
board_games Dominoes 186,887
religion Bible 185,440
school_administration My Study Life 180,459
virtual_worlds Stardoll 177,921
by_google Brushed 174,083
calendar_and_scheduling Calendar Clock 165,428
food_and_health, health_fitness Personal Trainer 138,420
bookmarks New Tab Page by Speed Dial Team 127,151
marketing_and_analytics vidIQ for Chrome 108,316
travel Booking.com 96,992
test_preparation ProConnect 76,072
hr_and_legal Resume (CV) Maker 75,405
radio Mixcloud 66,962
newspapers USA TODAY 66,033
sales_and_crm Zoho CRM 63,065
administration_and_management TeamGantt Project Management 48,552
erp_and_logistics W2MO: Logistics Design, Optimization, 3D 37,462
food Simply Recipes 28,735
astrology What do your dreams mean 17,808
dating Sender.Services 15,090
blogs Roblox News 12,982
social_news reddit 10,057
magazines DER SPIEGEL 4,360
fashion NEW 2014 Virtual Hairstyle Gallery 1,854
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Authors

Of the ~190k extensions, we find that some extension authors are more prolific than others. Google itself authors 155 extensions accounting for ~133M installs. The top 10 Google extensions are:

Google, however, is not the most prolific author of extensions. Chrome HD Themes has published over 6,000 extensions. The top 5 most prolific extension authors appear to be theme / wallpaper publishers.

name# of extensions
Chrome HD Themes 6,128
Lovely Tab 1,343
Takato Knights 1,181
NEWTAB WALLPAPERS THEMES 1,006
NIFTY NEW TAB 979

Finally, investigating the author with the most installs, we find that FreeAddon has accumulated ~72M installs across 618 published extensions.

Ratings

Users can rate Chrome extensions from 1 to 5 stars. 70,547 extensions have a 0 rating indicating they have not been rated. 2,663 extensions have the lowest possible rating of 1 while 41,141 (~21%) extensions have a perfect rating of 5.

Unrated extensions have an install base of ~18M while extensions with perfect ratings have an install base of ~58M. Finally, ~55%* of the total extension install base goes to extensions with a rating between 4 and 5 stars.

* We can only derive a lower bound total extension install base of 1,561,796,203 (1.56B) because Google does not report accurate figures for extensions with over 10M installs. 19 such extensions exists as of 9/12/19.

Names

Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of the metrics behind extension names. 11-character names are the most popular with a sharp drop off after 45 characters (the character limit).

Not all extensions seem to respect the 45-character limit. Of the 514 extensions that seem exempt from it, most are add-ons for Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc… As such, Google appears to add “ - Google Docs add-on” to their names. However, others seem to elude the 45 character limit by using dashes, pipes, commas or other special characters. For example:

There are 20,408 extensions that share a name with another extension. Highlights include 22 extensions called Hello World, 21 more called Hello World!, 18 called 2048, and 29 called New Tab. Here are the top 3, though:

name# of extensions
ThemeBeta.com 137
Reptile 79
Screen Capturing 77

Reptile? Yes, there are 79 individual extensions called Reptile published by the same author, Atavi.com, each being a browser theme with a different background image. The sum total install base is 721 with 374 of those users preferring this background.

“Screen Capturing” is a different story with a diverse set of authors all publishing under the same name. The sum total install base is 45,300 with the top extension making up nearly all of those installs (44,542 installs).

We broke down extension names into lexemes to explore the most used lexemes and the prevalence of certain terms we find interesting. The top 5 most popular lexemes appear to all relate to theming Chrome. They are:

lexeme# of extensions
new 25,137
tab 23,703
wallpapers 19,628
hd 19,367
theme 18,391

Additionally, we found that 1,586 extensions include every top 5 lexeme in their name. They represent a sum total install base of 1,767,944.

For threat intelligence, we’re interested in exploring the details of a number of relevant lexemes. Some of those are listed here:

lexeme# of extensionsinstalls
vpn 132 32,611,139
adblock 68 28,526,932+
password 290 23,155,172+
search 2,361 22,847,412
security 92 20,277,902+
ublock 8 12,311,322+
tracking 154 2,809,981
roblox 106 2,555,684
bitcoin 177 562,471
cookies 66 521,332
cryptocurrency 49 24,621

Coming up in future parts…

In part 3, we’re really going to get down to business and talk about permissions and content security. We are a security startup after all. This will be very revealing. Even we were surprised when we first started digging into this data.

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