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Google Analytics - No longer Free

The Google Analytics Team announced more High Level capabilities that have been built into Google's Web Analytics solution.

These build on already powerful capabilities like Advanced Segmentation, Event Tracking and Custom Reporting.

A loosely connected but collaborative group of talented, committed volunteers can produce good free software; but a corporation, even one as innovatively structured as Google, cannot build powerful software, continuously upgrade it in material ways and provide it for free indefinitely.

But is 'free' the 4-letter ' f ' word?

For how long can Google continue to provide it for free?

This is certainly a question with which Omniture is paying good money to address. Do you think that GA promoting itself as a free but enterprise solution is getting the ear of enterprise solution vendors?

I maintain that we should no longer consider GA as 'free'. Software developed without an alternate revenue stream but in the hope of donations, is free software. The Alexa Toolbar is not truly free. 'Free' does not only mean free of charge. It also includes free of funding or financial backing.

With the billions of dollars generated by AdWords, Google Analytics and related products like Google Website Optimizer that have proven to be contributing to AdWords' success and growth, payment for GA's advancement will continue to be pumped into GA and its sister products.

So, in reality, even large enterprises demanding the best in enterprise level web analytics solutions, are getting the software they need, paid for by another enterprise and by the masses of small business AdWords clients.

In the case of Google Analytics, 'free' is not the 4-letter ' f ' word. It's just a different funding model. With GA providing the level of enterprise capabilities and worldwide support, the time to think of Google Analytics as free, in both facets of the word, is over.

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Interesting thoughts on Free in this post.

I tend to disagree with you. Did there ever existed anything in the marketplace that was free?

And what is free? "Free of charge", "buy one get one for Free", "buy now and pay later(free of interest)", "Free to copy and distribute"

All of these models can only sustain in a context of value exchange. If there is no exchange you can give away once after which all your resources are drained.

Google Analytics is free of license cost. In that sense they are of the free of charge model. I don't think there is anything new in your observation that there is a value exchange involved.

And according to you, what consequence should it have for anybody that a value exchange exists with Google Analytics? Should we be warned, or stop to use it?
# Posted By Daniël Markus | 10/30/09 6:21 PM
Hi Brian,

nice post!

'free' also means 'what are you willing to give up for cost-less analytics service?'

Jim Sterne nailed it during the whole privacy debate:


# Posted By Julien Coquet | 11/2/09 7:36 AM
Thanks very much for your points.

The novelty, if any, is in getting businesses to see GA, not as "free" software that is struggling to advance, but as expensive software that is well funded by others.

"... what consequence ... that a value exchange exists with Google Analytics? Should we be warned, or stop to use it?"
No, just the opposite.

To appreciate more clearly, that GA is not free, compare GA to Twitter. Regardless, something's gotta give with Twitter - either it will be constrained somewhat to be monetized, or must develop some other revenue model.
# Posted By Brian Katz | 11/2/09 11:51 AM