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March 19, 2010

Google and Pre-announcing New Features

Google: "We don't pre-announce our products." (2006)

Before the launch of Google Apps Premier Edition, Google rarely pre-announced new features or new services. Since many new features were released in beta, Google announced them when they were available. Google wanted to deliver real value and trying a service is far more exciting than reading a blog post or a press release.

Something changed in 2007, when Google launched Google Apps for businesses. In April 2007, Google promised that it will launch an online service for editing presentations: "Well, we tried to keep it a secret as long as we could, but to be honest, we've been dying to tell you about the bun we've got in the oven. We'll soon be welcoming a new addition to the Google Docs & Spreadsheets family: presentations. Our due date is this summer." The service has been released in September.

Now it's no longer surprising to read things like: "We're pleased to announce the upcoming release of the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server". Businesses need predictability, but Google shouldn't become predictable.

The latest pre-announcement is from Google Analytics, which will launch "a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics. Our engineers are now hard at work finalizing and testing this opt-out functionality. We look forward to make it globally available to our users in the coming weeks."

It's nice to know that the engineers are "hard at work" and that the plug-in will be available "in the coming weeks", but when it will be released, people will no longer be excited to try it. If the launch is delayed and the plug-in won't be available "in the coming weeks", many people will wonder why they can't download it and will conclude that it's vaporware.

Coming soon: Google will announce some upcoming pre-announcements that will be posted in the coming weeks. Google's engineers are already hard at work writing blog posts about features that aren't yet available, but they'll be released at some point in the future.

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