The world got impatient; one second of slower load time can cost Amazon $1.6 billion across a year

There are some statistics you run across in the course of consuming information that just straight up blow your mind. Here’s one example:

In the United States period he’s describing (via the book), the U.S. built basically almost everything we currently have. The Chinese then used more concrete than that in three years. Stunning, right?

Here’s another ridiculous statistic, regarding impatience and business:

Surprising as all this may be, the implications of this impatience are even more shocking. Amazon’s calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. Google has calculated that by slowing its search results by just four tenths of a second they could lose 8 million searches per day–meaning they’d serve up many millions fewer online adverts.

One second of load time = 1.6 billion dollars. You talk to some people who live in Seattle and they’ll tell you that Amazon “on-boards 300 engineers a week.” I’m not sure that’s 100 percent true — although it could be — but if it is true, you can now somewhat understand why. (You can also draw a logical line to a decrease in innovation around the rest of Seattle.)

We already knew that people’s attention spans aren’t the greatest, but one second being tied to $1.6 billion is something you’d expect to hear out of the military — i.e. if someone misses a jet landing on an aircraft carrier by a second and skids the plane into the ocean. But 1 second of load time for “neymar soccer jersey” and Amazon is losing money? (Odd too, because Amazon doesn’t technically make profits.)

Here’s another way to look at it: every time Amazon increases load time by 100 milliseconds, it can gain a 1 percent increase in revenue. (Amazon does make revenue, and how!) There are 1,000 milliseconds in a second (logical, right?), so if they increase load time by a second, that could be a 10 percent increase in revenue.

Overall lesson: the small things do matter — perhaps a bit ridiculously so, but still, they matter.


Ted Bauer