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Shenanigans: Google Analytics Is Not Disabling urchin.js This Summer

There's much ado about nothing.

That's our reaction to a blatant PR ploy that states "urchin.js will be decommissioned sometime this summer." We say again, shenanigans. The "40% of sites using Google Analytics use urchin.js" figure may be true, but the idea that Google will deprecate an "old" version of code is laughable. Seriously, why would Google burden hundreds of thousands of customers by forcing them to change their tracking code?

If you have a complex setup, switching to ga.js might require a significant development effort. And if you're new to the concept, we wrote an article about making the switch from urchin.js to ga.js. But there are a few Google Analytics features that are only available with the new code (e.g. event tracking), so switching to ga.js is highly recommended.

Regardless, it was fun to watch the Google marketing machine go to work today and debunk the rumor. The one benefit of the article is that it got us thinking...is there a Google Analytics-related headline that would cause legitimate concern among the masses? So we thought of a few (hypothetical) headlines:

Google Analytics To Charge Usage Fees

Starting with the launch of Google Analytics in November 2005, the expectation of free has already been established (ignoring the "you-need-an-active-AdWords-account-or-will-be-limited-to-5-million-pageviews" requirement). But Google Analytics has millions of active accounts, which means a small $20/month fee would bring in a hefty sack of beer money...via Google Checkout, of course.

The problem with this scenario is competition. If Google charges $$ for a basic account, it opens the door for a variety of free, competing analytics products (speaking of which...goodbye Microsoft, hello Yahoo). This means we'd be surprised to see a usage fee applied to all accounts. But based on conversations with customers over the years, it's safe to say there are industry-relevant features that companies would be willing to pay for in Google Analytics. Time will tell if they materialize.

Senate Passes Highly Restrictive Privacy Laws, Outlaws Cookies And Hosted Stats Apps

Ok, this is unlikely. But Germany has put Google Analytics and other hosted stats programs under the microscope recently, and who knows how things will play out in the courts and how many other countries will follow suit. If the worst comes to pass, Google won't be the only one affected.

Web Stats Tracking gifs Blocked By ISPs

This would be a colossal shakedown of every analytics vendor on the planet. Google Analytics, Omniture, CoreMetrics, WebTrends, Yahoo and others would be forced to cough up an "access fee" to whitelist their tracking gifs through the proxy architecture. And if the blacklist was extended to include video sites, we might even see some pitchforks and a good old-fashioned protest.

We'll probably think of a few more apocryphal headlines in the coming weeks, but that's enough for now. If you (the reader) think of any headlines worth mentioning let us know. And if any of these pan out, you heard it here first!