The Google Mini Flapdoodle

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-08 Print this article Print

Google expected a little flak when, in January, it began making available a bevy of new search features to only a select group of Google Mini search appliance owners.

What that meant was some individuals or corporations would have to buy a whole new Mini from Google in order to use the new features.

Well here comes the mini-wave of mini complaints.

The Google Mini flapdoodle begins in January, when Google releases two new Minis based on a next-gen operating platform. The new devices are faster, smaller and capable of doing much more than their predecessors.

Internet operators and enterprises buy these devices in order to soup up a company intranet network, or add a flashier search engine to a site. Manufacturers like FAST and Autonomy rule this market, even though Google continues to gain ground.

At the time, Google faced a decision: either make the new features available somehow on Minis already in circulation, likely at great expense to Google, or brace for a backlash. It began bracing.

"It isn't always possible for the new software to run on the older systems, so customers would need to upgrade their hardware to take advantage of these new capabilities," a Google spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.

"We continue to support the original hardware with access to customer support, software updates on that hardware platform, and the original hardware replacement policy."

The Google Mini is the only device Google sells in which a features upgrade requires the purchase of a brand-new piece of hardware, a spokesperson said.

You know who's understanding? Brian Madden, an independent industry analyst of Citrix and server-based computing, who in 2004 paid $3,000 for his Mini, plus another $1,000 for an extra year on his service contract.

He even agreed with some of what he predicted Google would argue when presented with his story.

But he's profoundly disappointed in a company he once held in high standing. He's sure there's a lot of fellow Googlers out there.

"I'd be willing to bet that there will be a lot of pissed off people out there once they realize that they can't get the newest features on their current hardware," Madden wrote in an e-mail.

"It just blows my mind that Google would release all these new features, but then force you to buy a new piece of hardware to get them!"

Madden also claimed he's due because of this bit of his service contract: "Add a year of support, software updates, and hardware replacement coverage for $995 per unit."

It's the weakest of his arguments.

As a Google spokesperson pointed out, Google clearly states that the service contract doesn't include "major releases or upgrades to new hardware." |

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