User flood forces Google suspend free service

Google Inc. has temporarily shut the door of its Google Analytics hosted service to new users because the company has been unable to keep up with demand after it began offering the service for free last week.

Visitors to the Google Analytics sign-up page are met with the following message: “Thank you for your interest in Google Analytics! Google Analytics has experienced extremely strong demand, and as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity.” The company had previously charged $199 per month for the service.

Users are asked to submit their name and e-mail address so that the Mountain View, California, company can notify them once it begins accepting new accounts again.

This is the latest snafu to hit Google Analytics since its debut as a free service last Monday, when it began to experience serious performance problems as new and existing users alike struggled to access it.

The availability problems lasted through Tuesday, but things seemed to stabilize on Wednesday, according to several users contacted at the time by IDG News Service. “The demand for Google Analytics was much higher than we expected. The service is now completely restored and full service is available to everyone,” a Google spokesman wrote via e-mail when asked for comment on Wednesday.

However, demand continued to surge so strongly that on Friday, Google decided to temporarily stop accepting new subscribers. It hopes to resume signups “very shortly,” a Google spokesman said Monday. He declined to say how many users had signed up last week. Existing users should be having no problems with Google Analytics, the spokesman said.

That is the case with Jeff Saville, consumer direct marketing manager at Deckers Outdoor Corp., a Goleta, California, footwear company that has been using Google Analytics for about two years. Saville found the service a bit slow on Monday of last week, but then it stabilized and it was functioning properly today. “It’s working quite well,” said Saville.

Formerly known as Urchin on Demand, Google Analytics lets users monitor visits to their Web sites to track, for example, the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns and to determine how to modify Web pages to improve sales conversions.

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