Google has a problem on its hands. The pricing change for App Engine is not winning hearts and minds with developers. The first, most visible, victim after one day is Russell Beattie’s PlusFeed. There are sure to be more.
Beattie, who’d set up a service to provide feeds for Google Plus has pulled the plug. Beattie, calling the pricing “completely f****** insane”, says that his costs would have jumped from $2.63 based on resources used to $68.46 for one day.
Technically, under the new pricing it would have jumped to $34.23 initially. But that’s with an initial 50% discount to ease developers into the pricing change through November. You can see the pricing in the “estimated charges” portion of the screenshot at the bottom of the story. After November 20th, the charge for frontend instances doubles.
The amount of bandwidth consumed by the service is minimal, and results in a very slight jump. It’s all about the changes from billing for CPU time to billing for frontend instance hours. It’s not like PlusFeed is a particularly resource-intensive application, writes Beattie. “I’m grabbing JSON, parsing it, and delivering XML. That’s it. I’m not analyzing the f****** human genome.
“Maybe I could re-write the app to use “backend” services, where I make a real aggregator that keeps track of all the requested G+ user numbers then runs a background process to grab the JSON and caches the result in storage so it takes less ‘frontend’ processing. But it’s a lot of work, and honestly, I don’t know if it would really save me any money.”
Beattie isn’t the only developer expressing unhappiness with Google, but this is day one for developers to get a concrete example of how the pricing change will affect them. If Beattie’s experience is typical of other applications running on GAE, Google needs to re-think its pricing immediately. While a price correction may well be in order for Google’s platform to be viable, the sticker shock is going to turn GAE into a ghost town.
High prices, plus the lock-in factor that comes with writing for GAE, will make it a platform to avoid. Google needs to address this pretty quickly. Asking developers to re-write applications when it’s unclear whether that will actually cost them less to run them is unreasonable. And the price increase doesn’t appear to be reasonable. While it’s difficult to compare directly to (for example) Amazon Web Services, I suspect that running the same application on AWS would not be as expensive.
Anybody else being pinched by the price jump? Can Google stick to these prices, or is another price correction necessary?