Google Wastes 4.8 Million Hours and $120 Million in One Day

Google Timewaster

Sorry, that was meant to be Google Pacman ... last Friday Google added a css/javascript version of Pacman to their home screen, replacing the Google logo for the day. Fully functional and playable with your keyboard's arrow keys, the game was played for an average of 36 seconds by visitors to the Google homepage.


According to RescueTime, an extra 36 seconds was spent on Google (per user) last Friday, resulting in an amazing 4.8 million wasted hours. Also, given that it was a work day, those lost hours add up to a rather impressive $120,483, 800 in lost revenue.

What's even more shocking is that it's estimated around 70 - 75% of people who saw the Pacman replacement for the Google logo missed the 'Insert Coin' button (next to 'Google Search' above) and didn't realise the game was playable. When you consider the numbers above, that's probably a good thing!

The Google homepage experiment was in fact so popular that Google seem to have made it a permanent addition with it's own homepage - you can visit it here.  So that's potentially a lot more wasted man hours at work. Particularly as people like me and our SEO engineers are linking to it.

Does it really matter?

Ok so I started the post with quite a bold headline, but actually I'm not sure how accurate this is. Yes, people will have wasted a little bit of time playing the game but I'm fairly confident those 36 seconds would most likely have been lost somewhere else anyway - Facebook in particular comes to mind. So maybe this was more an exercise in taking 36 seconds per person away from Facebook rather than out of anybody's working day.

Also, I don't know what all the fuss is about really, the World Cup is on the way, and I'd be pretty confident that will cost a considerable amount more in terms of man-hours and expenditure. I can't imagine too many people are going to be calling in sick to play Pacman, but watch what happens when England play America!  In fact, given the state of our national economy, it's probably best that they don't get any further that the first round ..... although I won't be hoping for that!

Either way I think this was a fun little experiment by Google, and a good way of demonstrating how keen we are as a species on wasting time ... and how much I miss games like Pacman. Fingers crossed for a javascript version of Double Dragon then!