Google revives Urchin & gets into Server Software Business

Google recently announced the release of Urchin version 6, the first new release of the highly popular analytics package since Google acquired the independent Urchin in 2005.

At the time of acquisition, Urchin Software, based in San Diego, had established quite a following in the analytics marketplace. Available as software you install on your own servers, Urchin 5 has been popular for organizations wanting to have rich analytics in a friendly user interface, without requiring JavaScript in pages or sending data to a third party.

While Urchin on Demand became Google Analytics, and was developed extensively by Google, Urchin customers waited for a new version of the software. While most other businesses would have coveted the existing wide and often blue chip class of Urchin users, shipping server software to install yourself has never been something Google has gotten into. Until now.

The announcement of Urchin 6 has been eagerly awaited by many existing Urchin customers. The following table highlights the differences between Urchin and Google Analytics.

Google AnalyticsUrchin
FreeLicenced on a per-server basis
Uses Javascript & Cookies to collect dataUses Javascript and log files as data sources
Data is stored & processed by GoogleData is stored locally and processed on your servers
Provides seamless AdWords integrationAdwords campaign data needs to be imported or tagged
Third party cost data can't be importedThird party cost data - Yahoo or Microsoft ads - can be imported
Provides an advanced Flash interfaceUses the previous generation interface for reports (Google Analytics 1.0)
Has difficulty handle non-page contentCan handle all web server requests, whether pages, files, or other traffic sources
Includes events and search analysisDoes not provide events or search analysis

As you can see, from the above table, the differences between the products are fairly significant. In summary, if a company is very cautious - or is bound by law - to prevent website traffic data from leaving their facility, Urchin is a better choice than Google Analytics. However, the fact Urchin is running an older interface, doesn't support newer event and site search stats and is unlikely to have new features added to it as quickly, means that GA will remain the platform of choice for most webmasters seeking a high quality, reliable and inexpensive analytics solution.

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