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Description: Wait a second. No, that’s too long.  Remember when you were willing to wait a few seconds for a computer to respond to a click on a Web site or a tap on a keyboard? These days, even 400 milliseconds — literally the blink of an eye — is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. That barely perceptible delay causes people to search less.

Source: nytimes .com

Date: Feb 12, 2012

Google and other tech companies are on a new quest for speed, challenging the likes of Mr. Jain to make fast go faster. The reason is that data-hungry smartphones and tablets are creating frustrating digital traffic jams, as people download maps, video clips of sports highlights, news updates or recommendations for nearby restaurants. The competition to be the quickest is fierce.

People will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).

“Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,” said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft.    Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you feel that web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage? Why or Why not?
    2.  What do you feel are the best ways to speed up the web?

23 Responses to “For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait”

  1. CAP

    There are many people who are very impatient when it comes to downloading or trying to open up a website. I am one of those people. With technology advancing now a days, there should be no wait at all when trying to open up anything on a website. Then again, I might just not know what really goes into having faster speed on a computer. All I know is, I want to be able to click a link and have it up right away. If a company wants to have more people use their service then they would need a competitive advantage. In this case, they would need to be faster than any other company. People do need to consider how many things are downloading at the same time which may cause the digital traffic jams. They could be downloading a movie online at the same time downloading a video on YouTube which can slow things down. To resolve this problem, people either would need to be more patient or companies would just need to have faster services. The world is just so fast pace now that people cannot afford to wait. Companies will just need to find a better way of making their services go faster than their competitors if they want more users.

  2. Jillian

    I can remember when my family got our first computer; we had dial up and a time limit of how long each child could use the computer for. If you were the first one on the computer, your time was reduced by 5-10 minutes simply from the computer connecting to the internet. Once you were on the internet and went to search another page, there was definitely enough time to get up, go to the fridge, and come back with a snack.
    Although internet speed has come a long way since I was 8 years old, I strongly believe that web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage. For example, just this past year I was online Christmas shopping. I was on a web page that was taking a long time to load, so I tried to load it again and for the second time was it taking too long for my patience that day. Therefore, what I was going to buy online, I decided not to. As well, I have noticed that mobile online speeds are much slower than from the computer and this can be very frustrating.
    In today’s economy consumers are not willing to wait, because there are so many other opportunities that may be fast and readily available. Therefore, it is essential for increased web speeds in order to gain a competitive advantage.

  3. Logan Woo

    Web speeds are definitely an issue of competitive demand. Even as a residential user the two second rule takes huge part in my surfing, if a video does stall I will click on the next best thing that interest me. As for the business worlds 250 milliseconds makes the difference between millions of dollars. As online traders now use computers which buy and sell every Mili second it is crucial to have data first in order to make the proper trades. In order for these companies to be successful they must have a competitive advantage of the web. In order to speed up the web I believe that some commodities must be relinquished in order for speed as well as video clips to be degraded down into a 280 P instead of 720 in order to use up less bandwidth. As for the digital traffic jams online surfers need to realize how many links they have open and which of these links is using a lot of downloading space. An example would be if you were streaming a movie online while surfing the web or online shopping, by closing the movie link your internet speed will increase consequently decreasing the online traffic jam.

  4. Sarah Lawson

    Web speed is one of the most deciding factors of whether to use a certain search engine or not. If we think of the user as a consumer and the search engine as the service provider, the service provider has responsibilities to ensure a satisfied customer. Since they barrier to entry is extremely low for search engines, the competition gets fierce. The article talks about the patience of users when the internet first came about, but now that almost anything is possible on the Web, users expect more and more out of Web providers, specifically web speed. I think it’s extremely important for companies like Google to ensure faster web speed than anyone else in order to keep their users using Google search engine.
    It’s hard to say what would be the best ways to speed up the web but the first thing that comes to mind is to limit the amount of spam floating around and keeping websites smartphone-friendly, so they are easy to load on your mobile device.

  5. Jon

    I agree with the point of view that web speeds create a competitive advantage. I initially read the article with the thought that I would dispute the ideal of speed makes a difference. My reasoning was: What does a second, or “250 milliseconds” matter? Yet, as I read the studies, I pondered my personal website patterns. I discovered that, in certain situations, especially when time is limited, I will avoid websites that I know take longer to load. When I think of how much longer they take compared to those I frequently visit, it can be no more than a few seconds. For example I know of one sports website that I don’t usually visit, because it takes a few more seconds to load than another page. Even though the content is a little better on the longer-loading page, and has more content, I don’t like waiting for the page to load.
    Therefore, I put myself in the company’s perspective. If they (the consumer) are not visiting my website, how can I fix this? Even if the content is better, we must bring them to our website. Speed, in my opinion is an issue.
    With this said, I feel that speed is a competitive advantage, only if there are significant differences between one or more option. I refer to at least a few seconds, as opposed to 250 milliseconds, or the blink of an eye. If the content is good enough, then I am willing to wait.

  6. BK

    People want fast internet. Could someone please tell the UofL that? Fast web speeds are a huge competitive advantage. It only makes sense that the longer people have to wait, the less time they will spend on that particular web page. Remember the good old days of dial up? Then when high-speed internet started to catch on, people jumped ship and wanted shorter wait times. Now that virtually everyone has had a taste of these short wait times, we want it faster. The website that provides that fastest connection only stands to gain, until someone becomes even faster than they do. Our impatience stems from the fact that we actually can have faster speeds. If it were impossible to have fast connections, no one would complain about it. It would be just as normal as standing in line at Disney Land. You would be upset, but realize that there was no other option than to just wait. I think the best way to speed up the web would be to slow it down. One reason that we can have “slow” internet speeds is because of how many people are on a site at one time. Slowing down the speed of a webpage would make lots of people leave it, and then, logically, it would speed it up.

  7. neltum

    Most of the people don’t have patience; we tend to loss our sense of direction. Lack of patience makes us irritable, anxious, angry and difficult to be around.
    Lacking in patience makes us short tempered, liable to sudden outbursts of frustration and in some cases, bouts of ignorance. With all of these reasons, I feel that web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage. “Google and other tech companies are on a new quest for speed, challenging the likes of Mr. Jain to make fast go faster. The reason is that data-hungry smartphones and tablets are creating frustrating digital traffic jams, as people download maps, video clips of sports highlights, news updates or recommendations for nearby restaurants. The competition to be the quickest is fierce.” These actions will benefits the company in a long run. This can create a good response from the users and will lead them to satisfaction. Based on my experience, every time I used my phone and I downloaded something or check something online, if it takes me forever to wait, I end up cancelling all my activities and quit from there. So web speeds are really a competitive advantage.

  8. Sarah Fletcher

    I definitely think speed on the web is a competitive advantage. Generation Y is a prime example of why speed has become a competitive advantage. Everything has become about instant gratification. However, I do not think this is the only factor to consider for businesses to consider when designing a website. Even if a website has the speed desired, it could lack in other areas. By this I am referring to the ease of use and the functionality of the site to begin with.
    I think overall it depends on what you are doing on the web. In the article it suggested that users are more willing to wait for certain tasks than other. I think this is important to note as I find this to be true personally. If I am doing an important or required task then I am more willing to wait then if I am just browsing the web. It’s also true that I am more willing to wait for a video to load than I am for search results to load. I think speed on the internet will increase with innovations so much so that we will no longer be able to notice past a certain point due to the fact that our human brains can only process things so fast. I think eventually this will limit users before the capabilities of the web does.

  9. Awesomeness

    This article is hilarious because it is so true. Web surfers these days are so impatient, myself included. When I am in a hurry, nothing is more annoying than having to wait a few extra unnecessary seconds in order for a website to load. In fact, I have a guilty habit of going on Youtube and when an ad pops up, refreshing the page again (hoping that there will be no ad this time, or the ad will at least be shorter). It’s quite ridiculous, but I’m sure I’m not alone. Also, I definitely agree with the point that speed depends on the context. For instance, I am much more patient with my mobile phone when it’s loading a webpage than I am with my laptop. However, I think that’s because I can at least walk around and do something while my phone loads instead of sitting at my laptop waiting for it to load. Anyways, I do believe that speed is a competitive advantage for any website (I mean, who on earth would wait more than 2 minutes for a website to load nowadays? No one.)In the past, people could endure waiting longer, but as technology has improved, their patience has diminished. So, if any company wants to keep their (impatient) consumers, it will be necessary for them to maintain and improve on the speed of their websites.

  10. JX

    Absolutely, web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage! If when a person visits a website, he or she has to wait too much time, I think most of them will close this website and go to other websites. Less waiting time can lead to mare satisfaction. Finally, company may get more revenue because of fast web speeds. In my opinion, the biggest change in the area of internet is promotion of speed. Web speeds, bandwidth, server, and computer processer are always improving. Time that users need to wait has huge decrease, but people still dissatisfy. Why we change our phone to 3G model? Because 3G can offer high speed to customers. Some people watch video online because they do not want to see ads on TV, and they can fast forward or rewind. In other words, speed and save time are important reasons that people watching video online. The best way to improve web speeds is boosting bandwidth availability. However, this is so expensive and this is long term. As a company, I think, to get a better server is a good way. Furthermore, when web designers design webpages, do not make too many add-ones into the webpages, so it can decrease loading time.

  11. Ellie

    When Apple Company put forward a new iPhone, one of the details that people care is the speed of searching Web. As everyone hope, the speed is faster than last one every time. In nowadays, people do not like to want even several seconds when they are searching web. If the speed of searching Web is slow, the people will feel uncomfortable. I am one of these people. With the technology advancing, we hope we do not need to wait when we open a page. So many people prefer the computer, Smartphone and any device, which has faster speeding. So the web speeds are and issue of competitive advantage of many IT Companies. But what actually made our speed slow, the article give us answer. “ The reason is that data-hungry smartphones and tablets are creating frustrating digital traffic jams, as people download maps, video clips of sports highlights, news updates or recommendations for nearby restaurant”. To speed up the web, we can close the different links of unused web. Also, we should format diskette at regular time.

  12. Garang

    To me, I believe that web speed is a key factor and so do most people.I value web browsing speed.No one is willing to spend time sitting and waiting for web pages to load or uploading time consuming data from files. Most internet providers companies understand most of their customers needs more especially for their impatient customers. I keep getting flooded with flayers everyday by Shaw’s high speed internet and web browser offers. I wonder how they new that I value web speed!! Anyway, I got a win! win! deal with them and this option attracted me to them thus, Web speed is a viable and sustainable competitive advantages. The best ways to speed up web speed is that the software companies should provide faster web browsing software at a lower competitive cost, besides, there are simple thinks you can do on your own to enhance your web speed. this includes regular emptying of your recycling bin, increasing your cache, increase your storage room by deleting unnecessary files, reboot, and files defragmentation.

  13. Rasika

    The speed definitely creates a competitive advantage in web browsing. Now the world is so fast paced. Businessmen, professionals and all kinds of computer users are hungry for time. They intend to do millions of things in fracture of a second. The internet leaves the user with millions of options to choose from. So the user gets to choose. The most important factor from which the user determines which website to visit for the required information, is the time it takes to load the web page. The fastest is definitely the best choice. Like I said everyone is in hunger for time. Through my personal experience, if I am downloading data from the internet, and if it looks like taking long, I would not hesitate a second to see other faster options that waiting. The most annoying fact in the internet browsing is when you are watching a video online. When the video stalls for buffering I have my own experience of how frustrating it gets. The browsing speed in my opinion, is not something that can be done easily. The speed is determined as a result of so many actions. Your computer’s data transferring speed, whether you have updated all the software, whether frustrating it gets. The browsing speed in my opinion, is not something that can be done easily. The speed is determined as a result of so many actions. Your computer’s data transferring speed, whether you have updated all the software, whether you are utilising so many programs while using a the internet in your computer and how compatible your computer is for the latest technology used in the site.

  14. aaron

    Totally true. Living in the country for most my life I was on dial up till the age of 14. I had access to high speed internet at school and in town, but because of our seclusion and how low the house was located we could not get high speed internet till about 2004. But once I moved into to town I almost took it for advantage, downloading a movie in about an hour became second nature. That is till I go back home, where we now have satellite internet that is a fourth the speed of the internet in town. This is when I start to realize how neutral I have become to such a presence. The growing expectations of internet users is not going to slow down anytime soon in my opinion. As people see all this increasing range of stuff that they can do over the internet its only natural that the speed of the internet should increase as well. Since website waiting times were acceptable to be 4 seconds three years ago, and now are expected to be 2 seconds or less, we can see the steep expectations of internet users. In a matter of years, I think that human interactions will be what slows a process, not the internet.

  15. Michael

    Efficiency is huge especially when it comes to computers and our time is money. With the emergence of high frequency trading millionths of a second mean millions of dollars for companies so having a bit of delay in browsers is huge. I believe it is great that Google is attempting to change their was so they can deliver the consumer a superior product with this they will be able to create a market advantage. Myself personally would like the more efficient system but not sure that my demands would notice it. I definitely see when a browser takes an extra second or two to load but when talking about millionths of a second I am not sure my work or time is currently important enough to demand that type of efficiency. I can definitely see why others may need this type of speed as time is money and any time spent not doing what you want is time wasted. As a market I think it is great that Google is pushing the frontier on what can be done in terms of speed. It will be interesting to see at what point the consumer does not notice the different in speed and if they will stop improving at that point.

  16. dns

    I agree that speed is definitely a competitive advantage because with all this advanced and high-tech technology developing, it leads people to believe there is no excuse for any delays. I am guilty too of being impatient with the loading of websites or links. It does get frustrating because if I am on a timely basis, I need to access this information as quick as possible. I usually refresh the page so it can reload until it comes up, if it doesn’t I just move onto something else. Same goes for other users of the internet, when you need certain information or something to be confirmed you want to know right away becasue time is being wasted waiting around. As Logan mentioned how business people are critical on time and these delays will affect their business plans tremendously. I honestly don’t know the best possible way to speed up the web but I assume it depends on the type of files you are downloading, or if you have seven different windows open and three different programs running that might be a factor of the speed of your internet. Probably cleaning out your desktop on your home computers of unused icons or files could free up space, therefore opening up different windows or loading documents is a lot quicker.

  17. Scotty

    Lets face it with all the technology we have in our homes, no one really likes waiting for more than an eye blind when searching for anything on the web. Our smartphones are almost fast enough now that the use of computers at home are almost gone, working from your phone however is much slower than working on a computer. Thus why most people get impatient when they do decide to go on their computer they don’t want to wait, if they wanted to wait they would just use their smartphone and do it remotely. I am one of those impatient individuals who hates it when the computer and internet does not give me the results fast enough. If I’m looking for something i need to be able to access it as fast as possible. I am not ignorant to the fact that there is allot of reasons for the internet slowing down and like Ellie says there are digital traffic jams preventing us from getting the results that we want because of high volume and traffic, I’m sure wit hthe growing demand however these problems will be resolved in a blind of the eye.

  18. Tyler

    Web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage for sure. As the article showed people will visit websites that load faster compared to a competitors website and people will click away from videos that are loading slowly. If a company has a website that loads very slowly it will be hard for them to attract people to their site since people will see the fact that the website isn’t loading very well and come to the conclusion that bad business sense applies to more than simply the website side of things and bring their business to a different competitor.
    One simple way of being able to speed up websites is to be sure that things that are on the site are essential to improving the customers experience on the site and not simply there adding nothing. When there are fewer things on websites they will load faster. As well it is important for companies to try to minimize the size of images and videos that are on the website.
    I know for me a website with a video on the homepage is not something that makes me want to visit the site and it slows down how fast it will load. So if they got rid of such things it would make the site load faster and bring in more business.

  19. John McAllister

    Having grown up in the dot com ear and experiencing the birth of the world wide web to the public has allowed me to appreciate just how much has changed. From the days when families used dial up and risked ruining their web surfing at the possibility of someone picking up the phone to being able to access the internet just about anywhere you go, it is clear that things have changes. I do feel that web speeds are an issue of competitive advantage but I find that it is more relevant in some cases than others. For instants, when streaming a movie or video on youtube, I expect to be able to click play and not have to wait a second for buffering. The issue with this is that there are not many options as replacements and sites like youtube run differently through different routers. In Markin Hall at the University of Lethbridge this can be a large hassle, especially when every second counts.
    While I would love to have the internet even faster and would enjoy to be a part of it, I also would enjoy other aspects of the web improving. Being able to access fast wifi in more places would be a larger benefit than fight over millisecond in my own opinion.

  20. knwe

    Speeds are an important part of competitive advantage, because as consumers our time is valuable. People don’t want to spend time waiting for web pages to load when they have so many places to visit on the vast world wide web. Not only in internet technology important for websites to load as fast as possible for the consumers accessing them, but the channel in which the internet is accessed is another key factor. For example, from my personal experience, and from those of my peers, many use Google Chrome as a web browser because it is considerably faster. Of course, this advantage caused competitors Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox to also make browsers imitating Google’s.

    The best ways to speed up the web are for us to examine Internet infrastructures in places like South Korea, where there users are well connected and who boast some of the fastest Internet technologies in the world. Unfortunately, the population and geographic distribution are in their favour, while in Canada we lack the proximity of populations, making it difficult to achieve such an integrated internet infrastructure. Installation of more fibre-optic networks, perhaps something similar to Kansas City’s ultra highspeed-fiber network whose goal is to “deliver internet speeds more than100 times faster than what most American’s have access to today,” could start in major Canadian centres and hopefully have a catalytic effect on the market. Internet service providers would also have to be willing to adapt to the new speeds, and be able to offer them at a cost that consumers are willing to pay. Also, consumers would have to be willing to upgrade their equipment at home to obtain the maximum possible speeds. This translates to costs for companies and added costs for the end user.

  21. smartweb

    It’s all about speed. At the same time, however, there’s got to be a limit somewhere, right? We’re so worried about the technical details here like 400 milliseconds is too long and 250 milliseconds is perfect, but in reality it’s something that we have no right to complain about… haha, I also remember dial-up and even high speed was not an option when it came out because we lived out of town. And yet, we got by just fine. I agree with Kurtz, that 84 yr old scientist, it’s fast enough for me too. However, it should be Google’s duty to make it faster and better. If they sit back and relax, they will just get beaten down by the competition. The main reason I switched from Blackberry to Android was the difference in mobile internet browsing speed. And what a difference that was. Switching carriers, devices, and exploring different sites and opportunities often, allows us to show these companies that speed is a major factor and it provides a significant competitive advantage in the market place. This will drive companies to be faster.

  22. Morgan

    According to the article, if a company’s website takes too long to load, the user will click away from the website and will likely stop going to the site altogether. Therefore, if a company’s website is too slow but their competitor’s site is fast, there is a large possibility that the consumer will use the competitor’s site instead. Thus, the slow site will lose business due to their lack of competitive advantage online.

    While fast internet is important for businesses (both large corporations and local stores), it’s not the only way to compete on the internet. Ideally, websites should be easily navigable and pleasing to look at, as well as quick. Even if a company had the quickest website in the world, it wouldn’t mean much if the information was in confusing places and had an illogical amount of menus to wade through.

    Experts are working on ways to speed up websites both on computers and cellphones, which is exciting. I believe companies could add more servers, which would increase the speed of their websites. Other than that, I think it would be beneficial to consumers if internet providers lowered the prices of their high speed internet – but that won’t happen.

  23. Megan H

    Stop and smell the roses, a phrased used to tell people to slow down and enjoy life. It seems we have become a society of I want it right now, people are no longer will to wait in line ups or begin to pound on the their keyboards when their computer does not respond as quickly as anticipated. In a society of fast food and 24hr convenience stores we are raised to understand that we can get what we want, when we want. I myself can understand when the data shows that people surfing the web are less likely to continue if they have to wait longer than the blink of an eye. I have been that person punching keyboard keys just a little bit harder hoping that it will increase the processing speed of the internet, or slamming my fist down on the mouse in hopes that my computer will move quicker. I can remember when I was a senior in high school and people were still using dial up internet, It seems that if people would just take a breath, and be a little bit more patient then having to blink your eyes to wait for a search or video to load may be a little less stressed out when they are finished using their computer.

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