Why Google is on Crack: Slowing Down Costs $900 Million

Google's instant search feature seems targeted at digital crackheads, and that makes perfect sense: It turns out Google users are, in fact, pretty cracky. They punished the company hard for slowing down by just one tenth of one second.

When Google purposely slowed some users' searches down to 400 milliseconds from 500 milliseconds, their use of the search engine dropped to 0.6 percent of total web surfing from 0.8 percent, the San Francisco Chronicle's James Temple reports. That doesn't sound like much, but it would cost the company $900 million per year if everyone's use dropped that much. Google users' need for speed helps explain Google Instant, which streams Google search results while you're still typing your search query. "When a process becomes fluid you want to do it more; it becomes more pleasurable," Google engineer Ben Gomes tells Temple. And when you do searches more, you become very pleasurable to Google. Why not take another hit, baby? You know you want to. It feels so good.

[Photo of Journalists trying Google Instant at the product launch via Getty Images]