This week marks the end of an era for Google Analytics, maybe also for the whole web analytics market place. Google announced that Urchin Software will no long be sold by the company. Urchin is the software company that was originally acquired by Google and ultimately was transformed into Google Analytics, the most used analytics tool in the market.
Differences Between Google Analytics & Urchin?
Below is a list of the main differences between the tools:
Data Storage: Urchin had the advantage of keeping the data inside the organization. However, Google Analytics also provides an opt out of sharing the data even between Google products (learn more about it in this page).
Maintenance: Urchin required more technical maintenance as the tool was hosted in-house. For example, if servers were added, removed or changed Urchin should also be configured to adapt to these changes. As Google Analytics is in the code of the website and triggered by the client, it requires very rare maintenance (only when it comes to adding functionality to the code).
Why Is Google Retiring Urchin?
Since Google Analytics was launched in 2005, the company has turned it into its flag product. Google has kept Urchin and developed it slowly since then, but the vast majority of features were added only to Analytics, including Adwords, Adsense, WebmasterTools and other important integrations and features.
I find two main reasons for this shift:
First, the product is not the focus of the company: as we saw last year, Google has been closing several initiatives and products as they believe “greater focus is crucial if we’re to make the most of the extraordinary opportunities ahead” (quote from link above). Urchin was never a Googley product, it is hard to implement and very technical in its nature.
Second, Google Analytics is a fountain of gold. As Google Analytics data is saved on Google’s servers, it is more interesting to Google to push it. Even though I believe the data is safe and well managed, it is a precious resource for Google.
Alternatives To Urchin
In an interview with Paul Muret, CEO & Co-Founder of Urchin and currently Director of Engineering at Google, when asked to share what was the one thing that he believes they did right, he said: “our value was to democratize the web feeling, trying to make something complex really easy to use.”
The Urchin team did just that (with the help of Google), they turned a niche market into a mainstream necessity.
Below is a short video with Brett Crosby, Urchin co-founder, where he talks about the Urchin acquisition.