Aptimize tested by Trade Me

Aptimize, a Wellington start-up backed by the owners of Microsoft developer Intergen, says it has attracted interest from Microsoft and Google after developing software that can halve the time it takes to load webpages.

Trade Me technology manager David Wasley says it is testing the product and plans to use it to improve its FindSomeone social networking site.

"What they have done is bundle a lot of well-known techniques into a product which works really well for those who don't have the inhouse skills."

Aptimize chief executive Ed Robinson says the Runtime Pager Optimizer software works by merging static images, JavaScript and formatting files into a smaller number of larger files - reducing the number of requests that must flow between servers hosting websites and the computers that access them in order for pages to load.

Testimonials indicate the software has cut the average page-load times on some sites by half to between 7 and 10 seconds.

Mr Robinson says this is a critical issue for marketing departments.

It is not unusual for webpages hosted in New Zealand to take 30 seconds to download in the United States. The benchmark that businesses should be aiming for is four seconds, he says, at least for their homepages. "New Zealand is losing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in export opportunities because our websites, when viewed anywhere from London to New York to Mexico, can have excruciatingly slow download times."

Mr Robinson says there are 180 million websites in the world, of which about 4 million to 5 million are owned by businesses that spend at least $10,000 a year on their sites and might benefit from the technology. About half use the Microsoft technology that Aptimize supports.

Most of the rest are built using Linux and open source web server software Apache, which Aptimize hopes to support within a month.

"We started talking to Google a month ago and they are really keen for us to do a Linux Apache version and have connected us with a number of people in the US who are interested in that as well."

Microsoft New Zealand web adviser Nigel Parker says he believes Aptimize may be on to something. While website owners can achieve the same results by different means, these can have their own complications.

Aptimize has a tool that lets potential customers check how long their sites will take to load in different countries.

That estimates the software could cut the average time for Stuff.co.nz to download from 9.7 seconds to between 4.7 and 7.2 seconds.

But it could not claim to help better the 1.3 second average download time of Trade Me's main auction site.

Aptimize's directors include Intergen managing director Tony Stewart and Mark Verbiest, who resigned as Telecom's general counsel this year.


The Dominion Post