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Amazon’s mobile website takes, on average, 2.9 seconds to load and has 99.9% availability via a mobile device, making it the top-performing site among a selected group of US retailers with mobile sites, according to a new benchmark study by Gomez.

The benchmark, which was conducted between November 1-15, 2009, monitored the mobile web performance – including load time and availability – of the home pages of 14 large retailers with qualifying mobile sites. If found that web-page load times among these retailers range from 2.9 seconds (Amazon) to nearly 7 seconds (Target.com).

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The? benchmark found that the average response time for the mobile sites tested was 4.7 seconds – more than 50% slower than the average response times of top retailers’ traditional websites, according to Gomez’s current Retail Home Page Web Performance Benchmark, conducted in October.

Retailers’ mobile home-page availability (uptime) averaged at 98.7%. Amazon had the highest, while Buy.com had the lowest (95.5%). By comparison, the average availability for traditional retail websites was 99.8%, Gomez said.

High Expectations for Mobile

While some consumers might accept mobile Web sites performing slower, given the bandwidth of wireless networks, a recent Gomez survey (pdf) of 1,000 mobile web users found that the majority actually expect websites to load as quickly, almost as quickly, or faster on their mobile phone, compared with their home or work computer:

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The same survey also revealed that two out of three people have encountered problems accessing mobile websites, with slow load times their chief complaint. Some 85% say they are only willing to retry a mobile website two times or fewer if it does not work initially, and 40% say they’d likely visit a competitor’s mobile site instead.

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“This holiday season will be the first true test of the performance of retailers’ mobile sites,” said Matt Poepsel, VP of performance strategies for Gomez, a division of Compuware. “And while we know that online shoppers have low tolerance for long wait times for traditional online shopping web pages, it will be interesting to see whether they will be willing to sacrifice speed for the convenience of mobile browsing and shopping.”

Additional benchmarks from Gomez that measure and rank the web performance of the nation’s top retailers include the Retail Home Page Web Performance benchmark and the Retail Online Transaction Web Performance benchmark.

About the study: To create this benchmark, Gomez worked with Internet Retailer magazine to identify the top retailers who have a qualifying mobile retail website. The availability metric measures the percentage of successful tests out of the total number of test attempts.?Response time metrics reflect the time required to download each homepage (including all embedded objects, JavaScript, and cascading style sheets). Monitoring of the home pages of retailers once per hour from four testing agents in each of three testing locations: Lexington, MA, Chicago, IL, and Seattle, WA. To access the mobile sites, Gomez’s testing infrastructure uses nodes that are connected to the mobile internet through modems with specific data plans. The tests simulate the Motorola RAZR V3 on the AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon networks.

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