Google and Facebook topped mobile Web performance rankings for the month of February, according to Keynote Systems' first monthly Mobile News and Portal Performance Index, released today exclusively with Wireless Week.
Keynote conducts hourly tests of the sites in the index, across multiple locations over each wireless network 24/7 during the monitor period, emulating the browser of four different smartphones: the iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC EVO (Android) on Sprint, the Motorola Droid X (Android) on Verizon wireless and the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile.
The data is collected from San Francisco, New York, Dallas and Chicago and is then aggregated to provide an overall monthly average in terms of both speed and reliability.
According to the report, Facebook, Yahoo, The Weather Channel and ESPN had the highest success rate for the February monitoring period. Success rate means a complete successful loading of a page. Facebook, Google and The Weather Channel had the fastest load time for the period.
Keynote concludes that Facebook and Google had the fastest load times because they keep their mobile home page lightly weighted with a relatively small number of page elements.
Herman Ng, mobile performance evangelist at Keynote Systems, notes that the fastest and slowest sites differed by five times, which he says could translate to a significant difference in the user experience. "Further, when it comes to availability (also known as "reliability"), the 2.5 percent gap is the equivalent of having your site down an additional nine days a year, certainly a disadvantage in the fight for mobile impressions," Ng says.
According to Ng, a downward performance pattern can be an early warning sign of Web server problems, even if the reliability of the site is high. "For example, an intermittent unretrievable image or object on a page does not necessarily break the site or affect user experience too much or bring down overall reliability," Ng says. "But when this problem spreads out from that one image to other objects on the site including the base page, then it can very quickly become a critical performance issue."
In general, having smaller page sizes and a smaller number of page elements logically results in faster page time. On the other hand, high success rate is largely dependent on reliability and stability of the Web server in delivery page content. Although Yahoo returned a relatively heavier page size with the highest number of page elements, it still had the highest success in February, which Ng called "a noteworthy accomplishment."
The charts published here reflect the results of the Index for February 2011. Keynote also publishes weekly results throughout the month on its website.
Wireless Week is partnering with Keynote Systems to deliver Mobile News and Portal Performance Index on a monthly basis.