Saying Goodbye to Google’s UA Analytics

Soon, we will all be saying goodbye to Google’s UA Analytics.

As you hopefully already know, Google’s UA version of analytics, the free service millions of web sites use to measure and retain web site traffic numbers, will stop sharing new data with users as of July 1, 2023.

It is being replaced with Google’s GA4 version.  There are plenty of places where you can see negative reviews of this product.  I won’t go into details as to why, but for the mass majority of accounts that use Google Analytics to measure site activity, it boils down to this:  UA is a considerably easier, and therefore better, product to use than GA4 at this point, and there has not been a particularly useful stated reason by Google as to why that is.  This has lead people to have to surmise why, and it appears pretty clear to me the real answer is that the benefits Google received from providing a free analytics tool to everyone had reached a point where it didn’t match the current and potential future costs of that free product for Google, but again, that’s not official.
The surmising will increase once we get past the “kept current” date of UA at the end of June 2023, and Google is probably in for a lot of public complaining about GA4.  I’m sure they have gamed this out, there will be incremental improvements around the edges to mute the negative reactions, and over time it will be expected that the memories of UA will fade away.
We should memorialize Google’s UA Analytics.  No matter what you think of its quality of data, no matter what you think of potential privacy issues, it is easily one of the best free-to-public things that has been created since the browser and the search engine.  For Google, it has been a testament that they can actually build software that is accessible to the non-technical (or at least there was a time they did).   It is useful, it is deliverable, it is comparable.  Perhaps a free tool like Google Analytics was inevitable, but Google built it and released it in 2005 and it has been computing views and users and devices and pages since then for a massively growing Internet.  Think about the breadth of that task for a second – collecting data, storing data, providing accounts to access that data, keeping that data relatively secure, providing easy to use tools to review the data, providing easy to use tools to deliver that data to those who didn’t have direct access to accounts, and processing all of that close to real time with very very very little downtime.
Bravo, Google.  Thank you, Google.
Now we all know Google didn’t just do this out of the goodness of their hearts, that there was data benefit to them as well and revenue benefit as well, so don’t think I believe this was just a gift to the world.  But still, and particularly FOR GOOGLE, they did a great job providing this to the public.  They did it for a long time, and they did it without requesting huzzahs from industry and individual alike with bombastic advertising, like Facebook has done before.  The web is better for it, and perhaps the only shame is that more web site owners didn’t try to better understand what their sites were doing with this data.  
Google UA, you will be missed.  It may take a while to figure out just how much, but thanks Google for all you did with UA.