The results of Keynote Systems April Mobile News and Portal Index, provided exclusively for Wireless Week, showed two big names, Facebook and Google, continue to lead the pack for the top spots in performance.

Keynote compared data between March and April and based on page load time Facebook and Google swapped the top two places; though it continues to be a very tight race. In April, Facebook had the fastest load time of 3.98 seconds (1st out of 14 sites on the index) and Google was second at 4.18 seconds.

Compared to the data from March, Bing and USA Today saw the biggest page load time improvement. Bing improved by 0.94 seconds at 6.16 seconds (ranking in 3rd place) while USA Today improved by 1.64 seconds with an average load time of 12.58 seconds (ranking in 8th place).

Other sites' page load time rankings in April were very close to what they were in March – the majority moving up or down in ranking by no more than two places each.

On the other hand there was a great deal more movement in success rate ranking. Yahoo! had the highest success rate with 99.48 percent (1st) and CNN had the second highest with 99.46 percent (2nd). The Weather Channel and USA Today had the largest success rate gain. The Weather Channel improved by 3.26 percent at 99.27 percent (4th) and USA Today improved by 5.08 percent at 98.62 percent (8th).

Using April's data Keynote took a close look at three top mobile Web portals to examine the different strategies they employ. The company compared them because they have a great competitive history and because their mobile site content is similar and includes content related to news, weather, lifestyle, videos, links and advertisements.

Keynote named the portals Portal A, Portal B and Portal C because it was more important to look at their implementation and that the particular brand names were not relevant to its technical analysis.

Between the three portals analyzed, there were several key differences between them, first of all in the number of URL redirections. Portal A employs a single URL redirection for all four devices monitored in the index while Portal B and C employ on average 2.67 and 2 URL redirections, respectively. This is consistent with the Portal Analysisdata (analysis data in table below) showing Portal A had the fastest redirection time while Portal B had the slowest. Portal A also had the fastest base page download time (a measure of first impression) by keeping the base page relative light weighted, while Portal C had the slowest.

Portal B had the lowest number of page objects which allowed them the lightest page weight and also experience the lowest number of page object errors. Portal A did relatively well in terms of number of page object errors given that it has the highest number of average object count.

Portal C had a relatively high number of page objects, and it also had the heaviest page size that is more than twice as heavy compared to Portal A and B. Its content download time was nearly double the other two portals. One critical problem with Portal C was its high amount of page object errors.

Portal Analysis IISee the complete results of the analysis below:

Keynote points out that Portal A employed embedded base64 encoded images directly within the iPhone mobile site base page. Embedding images in the HTML document reduces the effect of wireless network latency by reducing the number of round trip requests and improves overall page load time.

Next month Keynote promises an in-depth analysis on the performance of leading mobile news & portal sites after the death of Osama bin Laden.

Keynote repeatedly tests the sites in the index hourly and around the clock from four locations over the leading four US wireless networks emulating the browsers of four different devices:  the iPhone 4 on AT&T, the HTC EVO (Android operating system) on Sprint, the Motorola Droid X (Android operating system) on Verizon wireless and the BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile. Data is collected from: San Francisco, New York, Dallas, and Chicago and then aggregated to provide an overall monthly average in terms of both speed and reliability.