back to article Coders howl over Google's App Engine price hike (natch)

Google's decision to increase the price of its App Engine has sparked the inevitable. On Wednesday, as it announced that App Engine will officially lose its "preview" tag in the second half of September, Google also rolled out a tool that lets existing users calculate how much they'll pay under the service's new pricing setup …


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  1. Asgard
    Big Brother


    How many times have we seen this kind of lesson played out, where people dependent on a corporate Lock-in suddenly get stepped on by the corporation.

    @"the biggest concern about App Engine? Lock-in. You're at the mercy of Google"

    So when has that ever not been a concern? ... Oh that's right, some actually believe Google can be trusted, as they tell us they do no evil and so some people really fall for it ... So now lets just all sing that happy happy song (Google good Google good) whilst we hand over all control of our business to Google. What could possibly go wrong!

    1. Shannon Jacobs

      Google isn't really the source of the evil here

      Google is just following the law. The law is following the will of the legislators. The bulk of the legislators are professional politicians who follow the money. If you follow the money, it mostly comes for a small minority of businessmen--the basically evil ones. Most businessmen are actually fine and upstanding people, and they just play by the rules, whatever they are. It's basically the small minority of not-quite-crooks who are worried about the laws and who invest in changing them, quite often to remove legal jeopardy for stunts they've already pulled or to create new niches for new stunts. In conclusion, the rules of the game now require companies to grow like evil cancers or be destroyed.

      Welcome to modern America.

  2. Turtle

    Very inspirational

    Thank you for the very inspirational article. I look forward to reading *many* more like it!

    : )

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    It was in beta

    So, you launch a product/service based on a beta, pre-release service, and then complain when the released service is different to the beta one.

    Surely, the whole point of things like betas, is that they allow the author/owner to refine the final product based on feedback. So it shouldn't have been any surprise that the final version is different to the beta version.

    In the defence of the beta testers, Google does have a habit of beta products being beta for an insanely long time.

    1. Adam T
      Thumb Up

      Re: It was in beta

      I've got to agree with the above.

      More and more people think they're born with a right to a free ride. This may be Google, and they may have wads of cash, and their strapline may well chaff at my conscience, but the rules still apply - you want services, expect to pay for them somewhere, somehow, sometime down the line.

      It's an irony that the more popular a service is, and thus the more -expensive- it becomes to maintain, the more everybody thinks it should be free.

      All I see is a story about a bunch of people having a strong coffee wafted under their noses (no criticism of the article).

      1. Ben Tasker


        Whilst I think it was a bit off for Google to leave announcing the new prices to the point that there wasn't time to port, the fact remains it was a beta.

        The way I look at it is, if you've based your business on a beta you need to expect trouble. As someone else mentioned, Google could just as easily have decided GAE had no chance of being profitable and axed it as of x date.

        If you base your business on something that is, by definition, experimental you need to expect problems. How many assessed the risk of the prices rising, GAE getting axed or the API completely changing before putting all there eggs in the Mountain Factory's basket? They appear to have invested in a business/app reliant on GAE without any considerations of the risks that Beta software can pose.

        Google should have given more notice of the price hike, but those developers must have known there was at least an element of vendor lock-in in GAE.

  4. skevmeister

    And Chocolate Factory Strikes Again !

    Just goes to show how underhanded they are.

    "We told you we'd be changing the pricing Model. You didn't actually expect us to tell you in advance enough for you to port did you."

    When Google first emerged I thought they would provide a useful service to the world. But they have proved time and time again to me is that they are underhanded and devious. And the technology they develop is secondary to the Marketing Shylocks that they are.

    Never thought these words would pass my lips, but you have to admire that Jobs fella; he never pretended to be anything but a money hungry, egotistical sod. Larry and Sergei can't even be that honest.

    [Man the pumps for the incoming flamer's]

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Public company...

      Shock, horror! Google aren't a charity!

      On the other hand, they are a public company and have to show their shareholders, that they are investing money "wisely" in order to get good returns.

      In the case of AppEngine, that either means putting realistic prices on the service, when it goes live, or shutting the service down. They could have accomodated those that have been loyal to the service, by extending their current pricing model for 6 months or so... But at the end of the day, the product has to at least cover its costs, or better yet make a profit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Big D

        The thing is that when you are a company with a "don't be evil" type of mission statement, your shareholders expect you to behave in a different manner from hardcore capitalist businesses. They expect you to maximises profit within certain ethical guidelines rather than just maximising profit at all costs.

        For instance, I am a member of the Coop, I do not expect the Coop bank to make as much profit as, say Barclays/Citi/Santander, etc because they have certain stated ethical guidelines which limit what they are prepared to do. I wouldn't expect a company with a "don't be evil" type of mission statement to be involved in tax avoidance, locking in customers and hiking charges, crushing competition, etc and I would base my investment on this.

        Google - and any other company for that matter - should not be selling services for less than they cost, particularly if they are then going to hike prices when this becomes inconvenient to them.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          @Anonymous Coward

          There is a difference between acting ethically and running the company at a loss.

          If part of the Beta programme was to see how the service was used and how they can recoup their costs (let alone make a profit), then it isn't surprising, that they are having to change their charging structure.

          And "don't be evil" refers to their users, not how they do business.

      2. Jay42

        Agree... and

        Compute services cost. Is Google's compute service expensive? The point of their API's is to keep computing efficient and thus costs low.

        Beta or no Beta, all compute the provider T&C's allow for pricing adjustments.

  5. Richard Cottrill

    Option B

    Ok, I'll do it. I'll run AppScale on Amazon, and keep the prices honest. Right after I fix the dog kennel, but before dinner.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Been saying for years...

    ...Google = MS

    Same things repeating themselves.

    Giving away product for next to nothing or free, then slap on increasing charges.

    Killing competition (see above)

    Vendor lock-in (although this relates pretty much every other OS in history)

    The difference is, Google do this by selling ad's. MS did it by OS domination.

    Now let the downvotes role in.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      AC is right

      Undercut your competitors until they're bankrupt, then jack up prices. It's what monopolists do.

  7. Vic

    Google claim to "Do No Evil"

    That claim is clearly bollocks.

    Prices change. That's a fact of life. But announcing a complete re-vamp of the pricing model with just two weeks' notice is not playing fair.

    I hope Google get monstered for this.


  8. LawLessLessLaw

    bunch of whiners

    $500 a month for hosting and no sysadmin to pay. Not an amazing deal but not ruinous either.

    About the same as going to Rackspace.

  9. Just Thinking

    Am I missing something?

    The service has gone from free in beta to a pay service in production. Announced well in advance, though the exact prices came very late in the day.

    I am genuinely curious about what sort of businesses are involved here, because it seems to me that Google are charging pocket money prices, literally. Unless the app is generating huge amounts of traffic and no revenue, in which case it isn't really a business.

    Is it the $9 a month app charge, the 1c per 100 emails, what?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      100%+ cost increase

      No it's not the $9 month charge it's the huge increase in price. For example, I have a fairly popular app that uses the App Engine for it's back end. My daily charge is currently $36 which is just covered by the adverts I serve within the app. However, the new estimated bill rises from $36 to $89 - A DAY. That is just too much to take and means I simply cannot continue using App Engine if these prices are introduced.

      It's such a pity as it really is a good product, it just seems the new prices have been thought up by some Manager at Google who doesn't understand costs and is just focused on turning a profit.

      1. Just Thinking

        What are you using?

        Still curious, I can't see anything in the price list which adds up to $89 a day unless you are using a hell of a lot of it. Nor can I see anything which is way off the mark. 15c/GB bandwidth is about the going rate.

        If you are using lots of resources and only bringing in $36 a day, your app probably isn't viable.

      2. Skoorb

        How many users?

        It would be really useful for many people to know about how many users a day you manage to serve for your current $36 a day (or $89 in a few weeks). Any chance of a hint?

  10. E_Nigma
    Thumb Down

    What this Reminds Me of

    The well known tactics for getting someone hooked on drugs, first few fixes are free and when the guy gets dependent on the stuff, it's pay time.

    Google does have the legal right to do this, after all, all of their license agreements give them the right to do whatever they want. The thing is that they have been less than open about how things are going to work out.

    Until fairly recently, there was a sense of Google's being a technologically brilliant "Do no evil" company that develops all that cool tech for their own needs and then also shares that technology with the rest of us (unlike the other corporations which like to jealously sit on the stuff their R&D departments make); at that, all of those products and services were in a "perpetual beta", which was often perceived more as a philosophical stance than a technical one, as they were often capable of rivaling other companies' fully developed products, and all of them were free.

    That was obviously a myth, but rather than be fair and honest and openly say "This stuff is free for now, but once it comes out of beta, it will cost you, possibly in the ballpark of $x per month/developer/whatever.", Google decided to let that myth live as long as possible, and it doesn't take a huge leap of faith to conclude that that was because they benefited from it. So they purposefully waited until the last moment and then just said: "You've got two weeks to start paying or GTFO."

    And the users suddenly found themselves locked into a service they have to pay for and which can arbitrarily change its terms and conditions and pricing. Google, on the other hand, first had an army of people who first conducted testing for them for free; Google then allowed them to keep using the polished up service free of charge for a while, right until the moment Google estimated the bulk of them was committed enough that they'd have hard time getting out, and that's when they said "Pay up!" One may say that the users turned out fairly naive, while Google turned out rather... cunning.

    So, while Google may be legally covered, this is a warning shot to anyone using any of their "free" products and services. Though, speaking of legality, it remains a fact that Google has used its cache and the guise of "a beta" to offer a commercial grade service for free for some time in order to get people to chose their service over a competing one and that might well be anti competitive behaviour.

    1. Rob Dobs

      Yes it is illegal actually

      At least in the U.S. it is, leveraging a monopoly (in say search or advertising) to gain entry to new markets with low cost or cheaper than costs services, in order to destroy your competition is CLASSIC MONOPOLY behavior and as such is VERY illegal in the States. Hence the large number of anti-competition lawsuits that are starting to come their way.

      Their action of making Google maps results appear above Mapquests (which at the time was a more popular and better service) is case in point, and I hope they end up paying a lot of money to the business they have destroyed with this illegal behavior.

      Don't forget their omniscient power to scan your emails, your search results etc to know more about your behavior than maybe even you do. the ability to link IP's to users etc etc, make them a dangerous and scary company to me... use them a little as possible, and I find these days that Bing/Yahoo return results that are on par at least, and usually less crap to sift through to find what I am looking for. It seems google still trumps them the more technical and specific of a search you do though.

      Oh yeah, $500 billion in ad dollars selling illegal narcotics and meds to U.S citizens, which they have already had to pay to US in fines... THAT IS PRETTY EVIL BEHAVIOR already....don't believe their hype.

  11. Eddie Edwards

    Still costs less than nothing

    Has anyone done any analysis of how much App Engine costs *assuming you have Google Ads on your site*?

    The link here [] suggests 3000 users/day translates into around $1,000/month in ad revenue.

    3000 users/day, each receiving 10MB of data each and each performing 1,000 database queries on a single instance, still only costs around $10/day. Under the same model, at 50 users/day, or $15/month in ad revenue, Google Apps is free. There is an awkward place between having to start to pay and breaking even at around 200 users, but if you can't afford to inject $30/month of your own money to get your business through a teething phase, quit entrepreneurship now.

  12. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    You can't do a Google on Google...

    ... it's perfectly okay for them to leech off the work of others without paying, but if you thought that this was a two-way deal, you've just had a valuable lesson.

  13. bob 46

    100,000 coders

    How is one hundred thousand coders not a lot? It may not be a lot of people compared to the world population, but I would think it is a fairly significant chunk of the number of programmers, especially if you're just counting the ones developing for smartphone and tablet. I don't have any actual figures to back this up, but 100,000 coders sounds very significant.

    Anyone know how many developers there are out there altogether?

  14. TeeCee Gold badge

    Price point and porting.

    "I'm also not at all convinced another platform would actually be cheaper, looking at the whole picture."

    So in other words Google have got the pricing spot on, at least as regards retaining existing users?

    As far as I recall they always said it was to become a commercial offering so, (obligatory HHGTTG quote) there's no point acting all surprised about it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    swings and roundabouts

    for my current situation the new pricing model is actually better than I thought it was going to be, and Google did warn us it was coming back in May so we've had time to get our head around the fact there's no free lunch.

    Even with the new price hikes it's still cheaper than RackSpace, Amazon or Azure would be for us, and the dev model is simpler (can't build an Azure app on a Mac for instance without doing unnatural things)

    I imagine the pricing model will evolve as they get a better idea what it costs to run this stuff at commerical supported scale.

    My one complaint with Appengine though is the lack of a SQL query option, either on top of their table store (GQL is a good strt but doesn't cut it) or a integral MySQL option

  16. Stuart Castle Silver badge


    Re: "So, yes, Google App Engine was in beta. And perhaps the best policy is to wait for a web service to emerge from beta before putting your business on it. The good news is that the App Engine beta tag comes off shortly"

    The problem is is that in previous products and services, Google have (whether deliberately or not) very effectively changed the "beta" tag as a marketing tool. They have also given these services away for free. Some of these products have worked very well, and had little downtime (Gmail for example),

    This has caused people to associate the term "beta" with something new, reliable and free. I am an experienced Beta tester (I have been an official tester for Microsoft on various versions of Windows and other products, and am currently beta testing iOS 5). I have frequently found that Betas can be extremely unreliable and I certainly would not use software (or a service) that is in beta to run any business critical applications.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Agreed, Beta != a good move for business.

      That said, just to piss people off I'm going to start trying to convince people that Alpha means the same thing

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