The Need For Speed

Breaking the sound barrierWhen Apple launched the iPad, they predicted it would be used most of the time outside the home: on the commute, when travelling, for spare moments waiting around. But 62% of iPad owners never take their tablet out of the house. Tablets have moved into the living room: they are killing off notebooks, and now are outselling PCs. So how has the iPad been so successful?

One reason is speed. It’s simply faster to turn on a tablet. It takes a second to switch itself on, while your laptop is ponderously humming and whirring for at least two minutes. Why are we so impatient nowadays? Watching a microwave cook your food is almost intolerable: something about the countdown of a few minutes of anticipation begins to itch under your skin in the way that forty minutes of baking in the oven never did.

Speed is one of the defining features of the world today. Internet connections and computers speed up all the time. Things get quicker and quicker and the rate of change speeds up to. Do you remember the fun little games you used to get to play with your cursor while games loaded? Do you remember the spinning hourglasses or whirling wheels? How often do you see that now? I expect to get as quick a webpage load on my mobile as I do on my computer, if not often quicker.

This is often overlooked in the success of things. Surveys suggest that nearly half of users will abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. Make your webpage quick. No matter how good the promised content, no one waits for things to load.

Google did an interesting experiment with regard to load times. Marissa Mayer tells a story where Google asked users whether they’d like 10 or 30 Google search results a page, and the users wanted 30. Google implemented what the users asked for. The pages with 30 results had traffic drop and ad revenue to them by 20%. The difference in the loading time: just half a second.

Speed counts nowadays. That’s why Facebook’s often quoted motto is: move fast and break things. The first rule is: move fast.



Time for a general round-up of lessons learnt – as my campaign to be Meerkovo Ambassador has come to an end:


  • Twitter is surprisingly altruistic

Seriously, I have never met you people. I’m doing the online equivalent of unsolicited junk mail. And there you are re-tweeting me, sending me messages of support, offering advice. Humans are wonderful.

  • People still don’t read Facebook events

You can win an iPad by clicking Attending. And that means I’ll donate 50p to charity for you. That’s it. Why would you click Not Attending? You haven’t read the event, have you?

  • Leaving meerkat toys on the Tube makes you feel like a terrorist.

Enough said.

  • Sometimes offline is best

My mother has bullied all relations and friends, near and distant, into voting, and it made me realise what her social network is. Bridge, tennis club, work, university friends, baby playgroup friends, school gates friends. Frankly, it makes Facebook look pathetic in comparison.

  • The power of celebrity is not to be underestimated.

My competitor clinched victory due to a Re-Tweet by Davina McCall that garnered him hundreds of votes in the last weekend. In the online sphere, the power of celebrity is not to be denied. (Though she does have 600,000 followers, so only a few hundred extra votes shows their level of engagement.)


I’ll continue to follow the campaign closely, so good luck to Josh, the Meerkovo Ambassador, who richly deserved to win. And to all my fellow competitors. It was, all in all, a pretty bizarre experience.

Oh, and you can see my post on The Wall here