Once upon a time, there was a company called Urchin that made web analytics software. As tends to happen, that company was acquired by Google (in early 2005), the software became Google Analytics, and the price became free.
Google Analytics grew in popularity, and many people forgot that the original Urchin product was still around (and those who did remember thought Urchin might never be updated again). The primary differences between Urchin and Google Analytics seem to be that Urchin runs on a web server (and thus provides web log processing) and is more highly customizable, while Analytics is web-based (and easier to configure, but not as robust), and Urchin is $2995, whereas Analytics is free.
Now Google has announced a new beta release of Urchin, for those who require server-based analytics.
During the 90-day beta period, this latest version of Urchin is available for free to try. This beta was announced in October but is just being made available now.
This new version adds some of the features available already in Google Analytics (such as a new interface and and new cross-segmentation options).
Ophir Cohen reviewed the new version and found that:
- The ability to process historical log information is a great advantage over Google Analytics
- The installation requires mySQL and lots and lots of memory
- While the UI is said to be improved over the previous version, it still isn’t on par with Google Analytics
- Urchin doesn’t stand out from the rest of the server-installed analytics crowded field
InsideGoogle also notes that the Urchin FAQ doesn’t necessarily show an overwhelming commitment to future development of the product, saying only that they anticipate continuing development if demand is strong.
Search Engine Roundtable wonders about demand in light of the price, but other server-hosted analytics solutions are significantly more expensive, and web-based analytics products don’t meet the needs of all companies. The primary audience for Urchin is likely a small company that needs web log processing and finer-grain control, but isn’t ready to invest in a more expensive solution such as Omniture. The PageTraffic blog notes that some companies don’t want to share this type of data, and with Urchin, data is stored locally.
Time will tell if this new version of Urchin stands out enough from Google Analytics to justify a price higher than free and if it can compete feature-wise with more expensive analytics packages on the market. You can use both Google Analytics and Urchin at the same time if you want to check out the new beta during the 90-day free period.