Google Les Paul doodle cost 5.35m hours in lost productivity

17 Jun 2011

In what will sound a bum note to employers, it is believed the Google Doodle dedicated to guitar inventor Les Paul cost the world 5.35m hours in lost productivity as workers strummed away on company time.

The Les Paul doodle was so popular that Google gave it a permanent home. The innovative doodle allowed users to record their own 30-second tracks. Users could just strum the strings or trigger notes with the letters or numbers on their keyboards.

The doodle was made with a combination of JavaScript, HTML5 Canvas (used in modern browsers to draw the guitar strings), CSS, Flash (for sound) and tools like the Google Font API, and App Engine.

The effects of the Les Paul doodle

Time management software company RescueTime – which last year pointed out the effects of Google’s playable Pac-Man doodle – analysed the effects of the Les Paul doodle.

“When Google released the Les Paul doodle, the average user spent 26 seconds MORE on than in previous time periods. On average, users spent 36 more seconds on last year’s Pac-Man doodle, so you would think that the Les Paul doodle had less impact,” the company said.

“Wrong. According to Wolfram Alpha and Alexa, Google’s daily unique visitor count is up to 740m versus the 505m last year.”

According to RescueTime, Google’s Les Paul doodle consumed an additional 5,350,789 hours of time versus the 4,819,352 hours consumed by the Pac-Man doodle.

RescueTime calculated US$133,769,725 as the dollar tally, if the average Google user has a cost of $25/hr.

“Users did not spend much more total time at their computers than previous periods, but they did spend 10pc more time at Google’s website than they typically would, meaning that the 10pc more time spent at Google was stolen from other computer use time,” RescueTime said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years