Measuring the Gfail cost with Twitter

You may recall that at the beginning of February, the UK had a shit load of snow, which pretty much took out the whole country on the 2nd, a Monday. I wrote about a method I’d used to calculate the economic cost to the UK based on the Twitter chatter as a measuring stick. I got a figure of £690m – in the same ballpark as the “official” estimate of £1bn.


So, with Gmail out for a couple of hours yesterday (the “Gfail“), I thought I’d use Twitter again to get an idea of the cost, assuming that it’s impossible to work without Gmail – which, frankly it is. Also, I saw an estimate (via @carosparrow) on a Guardian blog post (by @jemimakiss) that put the cost at $415m per hour, or $1bn over the 2.5 hours Gmail was down.

This time, I couldn’t be bothered to go counting the hundreds of tweets that frustrated folks made during that period, so I used Twist to directly compare the peak volumes over the 2.5 hours in the morning, which coincidentally was about the same amount of time people were tweeting about being off work ‘cos of the snow.

Twist shows a peak volume of 14.04% of tweets being about “Gmail” yesterday morning, compared to a volume of 4.58% being about “snow” the morning of the 2nd. This makes the Gmail chatter 3x more voluminous than that for the snow.

Given that I said the cost per day of the snow was £690m a day, this prices a Gmail outage at £2bn ($3bn) a day, or £260m ($370m) per working hour (for an 8-hour day). By my reckoning then, the 2.5 hour outage cost £650m ($926m) – bizarrely close to the estimate on that Guardian blog.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 26, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    I think I use GMail even less than Facebook. Maybe checked my account about 10 times in the last 8 years.