Why is this page text-only?


AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

« Free the Internet from Free Stuff Online | Main | Broadband Apps Drive Competition »

November 27, 2007 10:43 AM

Cyber Monday Hits Hard - Big Numbers Creating Big Problems

As all bargain hunters know, the day after Thanksgiving--dubbed Black Friday--is the biggest retail shopping day of the year. People line up early and stampede into stores for what are often the best deals of the holiday shopping season.

This year, the Internet held it's own special shopping day, now being referred to as Cyber Monday, a day on which many major online retailers offered a variety of deep discounts to try and attract more dollars out of consumers' wallets.

Now I don't know this for sure, but this is the first time I can remember such a heavy emphasis being placed on online retail during this time of year. And the results were quite notable as early estimates peg a record $700 million day for online retailers.

Further evidence of the popularity of Cyber Monday came from Akamai, which hosts a number of retail websites like BestBuy.com and JCPenney.com, as they announced that across the more than 300 retail websites tracked they track, traffic peaked at a record 4.6 million visitors per minute.

But all was not necessarily well, though, as despite the promise of ecommerce to free shoppers from waiting for doors to open, many Cyber Monday shoppers were left waiting in a line of the digital variety.

Reports have come out from across the Web about online retailers--even giants like Yahoo!--not being able to handle the influx of traffic to their sites. For some sites, this just meant a slowdown in performance, for others it meant crashing completely.

Most devastating of all was the fact that many appeared to have problems not while shopping/browsing, but instead in the checkout line, once customers had already decided they wanted to buy something.

I haven't seen any estimates yet of what impact these hang-ups might have had on driving consumers to other sites or away from online shopping altogether, but it can't have helped.

I also haven't read any definitive proclamations as to what was causing these issues, though it seems most likely that they occurred due the servers these sites were hosted on becoming overwhelmed with too many customers trying to sign on and swoop up deals.

What should have been a triumphant day for online retailers has instead been marred for many by the inability of the Internet to keep up with demand.

But it's important to note that this wasn't an issue of not having enough capacity in the network, but instead on the server side of the equation. This points to the fact that if the Internet is to realize its ultimate potential, we need to realize massive investment all the way up and down the value chain through which Internet traffic flows.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)