Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Latency: Fast is better than slow

Some interesting data from the Official Google Mobile Blog. They launched an updated Gmail iPhone interface to coincide with the MacWorld conference in January. As they expected, this resulted in a significant spike in Gmail traffic from the iPhone. Unfortunately, they quickly found out that Fast is better than slow -
Lots of iPhone users tried the new interface (hence the bump in Gmail pageviews between January and February), but they didn't stick around like we hoped they would. Over the course of the next few weeks, we made some tweaks to drastically improve the speed of the product, and Gmail pageviews on the iPhone not only stabilized, but began to rise, as the graph below shows.
The graph shows us daily pageviews in blue, with the latency overlaid in yellow. Latency, according to the open source Wiktionary is "A delay, a period between the initiation of something and the occurrence." For the average end user, the easiest way to understand latency is to consider how long you have to wait from the time you request a webpage until the webpage loads. Clearly the high latency at the end of January was driving users away - working to reduce that wait time (latency) brought users back and kept them.

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