Google i/o fail

Google i/o registration was today. Google completely screwed it up. Again. Is that 3 or 4 years running?

It’s really hard to understand how Google can screw this up year after year. It’s a terrible way to promote things like Google Wallet to developers.

It’s all the more disturbing, not to say pathetic, because this feels like a classic case of optimizing for the wrong problem.

This year’s registration page replaced last year’s browser timeouts and F5 pounding with more new code, this time in the form of a javascript spinner that had a planned timeout after 6 minutes.

There are so many ways to solve this problem in a way that leaves everyone feeling a lot better about the process.

The notion of first-come first-served makes almost no sense in an oversubscribed internet queue. It’s one thing to serve the first person standing in line outside a store, it’s another thing to pretend that this is meaningful when the queue is 100,000 people around the world all of whom were all in line at 10:00:00am.

It would have been more fair, less annoying and generally less embarrassing to formally recognize that this is effectively a random lottery. As such, have everyone pre-register over a period of days or weeks and then on the magic day, randomly select winners.

They wouldn’t even need to do the credit card processing until the winners have been found and any winners whose card fails are dropped and the next random winner wins. This entire process would take less than an hour and could run on an laptop in VicG’s office.

Even punting this entire mess to ticketmaster would have been better. And that’s saying something.

I’ve tried attending virtually in the past and it’s just not the same. I can watch the videos of the talks anytime but it’s the random conversations in the halls that really bring it all together.

Of course there’s a possibility that Google actually wants to maintain an aura of hype and unavailability for its premiere developer event. The continued high value gadget giveaway certainly makes the ticket worth the $900. Does Google actually need to do this? Do they benefit from putting these devices in developers hands? Would the conference be as popular without the swag? We’ll probably never know.

In developer relations there’s a big difference between hype and engagement.