Google Analytics still off limits to new users
Heavy demand after the Nov. 14 launch led to performance and availability problems
IDG News Service - More than six weeks after renaming and upgrading its Web analytics service and cutting its price to zero, Google Inc. continues to labor to make the service meet its own expectations as well as those of users.
On Nov. 14, Google festively announced that it had improved its Urchin on Demand service, renamed it Google Analytics and made the previously $199-per-month service a freebie.
However, the service's ballyhooed launch as a free offering ended badly. Overwhelming demand created serious performance and availability problems, which angered users and forced Google to suspend sign-ups.
The company said at the time that it would resume accepting new users "very shortly." But Google Analytics remains closed to new clients.
Why? Google is still adding computing capacity to the Google Analytics platform to make sure it doesn't again buckle under the demand from new users.
This week, a Google official declined to even give a ballpark estimate of when the company will resume sign-ups for the service, saying only that he expects that to happen at some point before midyear.
"We're increasing capacity to add more customers as quickly as we can. We want to make sure every customer that comes on has an ideal experience, so we're working hard on the capacity issue," said Richard Holden, director of product management for Google Analytics, on Tuesday.
While prospective users remain locked out, existing users have faced lingering issues and inconveniences.
For example, a restriction on the number of Web sites that existing customers can track has been lifted progressively over the past several weeks, and by Tuesday it had been removed for all users, according to Google.
Meanwhile, the freshness of reporting data has also improved, so users can receive reports several times per day instead of once every two days, as was the case in November.
"Yes, reporting time has lagged since it was launched as a free service, but it's getting better, noticeably faster. There were points when it was taking a day or two to get caught up, and now you see reports updated a couple of times a day," said Caleb Whitmore, manager of search marketing and Web analytics at POP, a Seattle-based Web site design and hosting firm.
POP began using Google Analytics about five months ago to provide traffic analysis services to its clients. Google Analytics monitors Web site visits and can be used to track, for example, the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns and to determine how to modify Web pages to improve sales conversions.
Others are hoping that in addition to boosting the computing backbone, Google will also beef
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