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Google I/O Sells Out In 20 Minutes 221

Posted by timothy
from the improved-throughput-explains-all dept.
netbuzz writes "Last year it took almost an hour, but this morning Google's enormously popular conference for developers sold out in about 20 minutes, Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, told his followers on Google+. 'While we're overwhelmed with the interest and enthusiasm around Google I/O, we know it can be very disappointing and frustrating when an event sells out this quickly,' he wrote. Those who did not get tickets were not only disappointed and angry, but mystified as to why they were left out of a first-come, first-served sale despite being online and ready to buy the second the bell rang. And, of course, tickets were quickly being scalped on eBay." Of course, everyone who gets in drives away in a free Tesla.
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Google I/O Sells Out In 20 Minutes

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  • by raitchison (734047) * <robert@aitchison.org> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:26PM (#39486703) Homepage Journal

    I've always wondered with I/O how much people want to go because of whatever new technology is being introduced or discussed there or because the expectation being set that all attendees will get a full featured Android device (phone or tablet or STB).

    The developer of the dominant alternative recovery for MANY android devices wasn't able to get a ticket this year (though he may well get one via back-channels) due to the mobs of people who snatched up the tickets like it was a Queen concert complete with zombie Freddie Mercury.

    Also as TFS pointed out I suspect there are a fair number of people who got tickets with the intention of reselling them at a profit.

    • by sethstorm (512897) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:29PM (#39486789) Homepage

      If Google does the right thing, they'll find and cancel the scalped tickets - and do a second round.

      • Sounds good (and hillarious) but I think it would be harder to pull off than one would think, even for Google.

        How would Google identify which tickets were scalped? I guess they could make the tickets non-transferrable but that would affect people who bought tickets with the intention of going but later found out they couldn't and would give their tickets to someone else (or sell them at cost).

        • by ccguy (1116865) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:45PM (#39487105) Homepage

          I guess they could make the tickets non-transferrable but that would affect people who bought tickets with the intention of going but later found out they couldn't and would give their tickets to someone else (or sell them at cost).

          Just make them non-transferrable but refundable and problem solved.

        • If a developer couldn't go because of illness, Google could offer to buy them or at least broker them at face value to someone who could go. If the tickets were non-transferable except through the brokering service, that would be less evil than letting the scalpers get them.
        • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:51PM (#39487209) Homepage Journal

          It's a little late, but I have two thoughts. One was a band that discovered something like 80% of their tickets had been bought by scalpers, who were demanding 10X the ticket price. Their solution? They held 3 more shows. The first, originally scheduled, show was practically empty - the other 3 were packed.

          Solution type: Increase supply.

          Another option is to hold a 'dutch auction' for the tickets. Easy enough for shows with one seating category, but only a touch more difficult with multiple to handle people who are willing to pay $X for 'good' seats, but $Y for 'normal' seats only if they don't get good ones. The tickets then go for the minimum price that 'just' sells all tickets. Yes, this means that only the richest and/or most dedicated fo fans get to go, but at least the money ends up in the hands of the artist's company, not scalpers. If the artists feel that the price has risen too much, add shows.

          Solution type: Increase the price so that demand equals supply.

          • by Pope (17780) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:59PM (#39487345)

            There was an even better solution to Hannah Montana or one of those other Disney types a year or so back: buyer's name goes on the ticket, and only that person can get in.

            The biggest problem is between bands demanding a certain amount of money per show to play, and the touring management companies who feed into it, raising ticket prices in the process. This mostly applies to older bands, but it's easy to see where it leads.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Bands time is finite, so they can't increase supply forever. And many of those popular bands feel some responsibility to their fans who've supported them for years. That means they don't want to charge limit their audience to the rich. In this case, neither of your solutions are workable.

            Fortunately, the Grateful Dead came up with a solution. Ticket lotteries. One entry per person, a small maximum number of tickets per entry. This way, at least you have a fair chance of getting a ticket, instead of i

          • by mounthood (993037) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:52PM (#39488879)

            It's a little late, but I have two thoughts. One was a band that discovered something like 80% of their tickets had been bought by scalpers, who were demanding 10X the ticket price. Their solution? They held 3 more shows. The first, originally scheduled, show was practically empty - the other 3 were packed.

            Solution type: Increase supply.

            Another option is to hold a 'dutch auction' for the tickets. Easy enough for shows with one seating category, but only a touch more difficult with multiple to handle people who are willing to pay $X for 'good' seats, but $Y for 'normal' seats only if they don't get good ones. The tickets then go for the minimum price that 'just' sells all tickets. Yes, this means that only the richest and/or most dedicated fo fans get to go, but at least the money ends up in the hands of the artist's company, not scalpers. If the artists feel that the price has risen too much, add shows.

            Solution type: Increase the price so that demand equals supply.

            How about Google consider who they want in the audience, and make a strategy to get tickets to those people? They aren't trying to sell the most tickets or make the most money, but promote their technology. They could do simple things like: scatter pre-registration codes through tech channels months before, or have tech questions tied to the registration system, or make people identify their 3 main areas of interest and restrict tickets to those events, etc...

            Solution type: Innovative

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            Increasing supply doesn't really work for something like this, though. There are only so many people that can fit into the venue, and only so many days the Google engineers can take to actually present stuff.

        • Google could set up a system like what was used at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Tickets could be resold only through the VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee) online system. You could ask any price you wanted, however when it sold VANOC got 10% of the asking price. This was they allowed for people to make money scalping tickets and they were able to recover some money was well.
          • by St.Creed (853824)

            Oh wow. They legalized scalping AND profited from that? I knew the Olympic committee was composed of evil scum but I hadn't considered they'd flout it so blatantly.

            It would conflict with Google's mantra though if they copied this.

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            The point is to GET RID OF SCALPING, not give Google an actual interest in continuing scalping.

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the problem with scalpers is far, far bigger than the problem you suggested.

          If someone legitimately can't go, offer them a refund, and then Google can offer that ticket to the next person on the waiting list. Problem solved.

    • I've always wondered with I/O how much people want to go because of whatever new technology is being introduced or discussed there or because the expectation being set that all attendees will get a full featured Android device (phone or tablet or STB).

      Would be really easy for Google to find out: stop giving away SWAG and measure how many people are ready to pay $900 for this.

      Obviously, they won't do this, because the really like the attention this is getting

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:30PM (#39486799)

    Maybe instead of an online first-come first-serve process Google should hold a ticket lottery for those who want to attend, That will help get the tickets into the hand of pre-qualified developers instead of eBay ticket scalpers.

    • Not really. The scalpers would just get hundreds (thousands?) of people to register to be in the lottery to ensure that they get the tickets. Hell, they could probably even get more that way.

      Honestly, I would think that the best way is to have some kind of lottery system combined with some process to vet people who are actually developers or industry folks who should be there. Maybe a really basic question about development that only developers would readily know the answer to. Once you've "passed," you

      • Google could reward actual developers only by requiring they have an app registered to them/their company in the official app store.

      • by ADRA (37398)

        Just make the tickets named, and non-transferable. Tell people before sales that if your name doesn't match the ticket, you don't get in. Scalping over. Of course that doesn't stop the people who're just going to the conference for the hopes of netting some good swag, but the only true solution for that one would be some sort of accomplishments based invitation vetting process, which seems to be against the nature of these conferences.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Odds are that any such question would be fairly easy to Google.

        I think the best way to do so is to bind a ticket to a person, make them non-transferable but refundable, and hold a lottery to see who gets them. As tickets get refunded, people on the waiting list are given a chance to go.

    • by curunir (98273) *

      I think there was actually a way for developers to game the registration process. For example, the registration page was doing client-side validation on date, so setting the system clock on your machine forward to past 7am would let you agree to the terms and move on to the next phase before the 7am live time.

      Unfortunately for me, I only thought to do that about 6:45am, so I wasn't able to figure out how to game the second step in time. Did anyone else navigate the whole path this way?

    • by mycroft16 (848585)
      The simplest method is to register a ticket to a name. Show your ID and the name must match that on the ticket. If you're buying 10 tickets for the group you are taking, enter all 10 names.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ccguy (1116865)

      Maybe instead of an online first-come first-serve

      I'm not so sure this was the case. I applied, and after the first "Sign up" button there was a page that said something like

      "We're looking for a ticket for you. Please don't refresh this page or you will have to start over"

      It lasted about 3 minutes before going to the next page where you could select your T-Shirt size, food preference and a few more things.
      I don't believe those 3 minutes were overload. Maybe when google said "We're looking for a ticket" they meant "we're looking you up, looking for an

    • by magarity (164372)

      Maybe instead of an online first-come first-serve process Google should hold a ticket lottery for those who want to attend, That will help get the tickets into the hand of pre-qualified developers instead of eBay ticket scalpers.

      No, Google should just auction them off on Ebay in the first place. It's hard to make a profit at scalping if the scalper has to pay more in the first place than the next highest bidder.

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        But if the tickets were sold on eBay, the bids would go up so much that nobody could afford them!

        • by egamma (572162)

          But if the tickets were sold on eBay, the bids would go up so much that nobody could afford them!

          Except, you know, for the winning bidders.

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            And we're right back in the problem we have with the scalpers: The price is too damn high.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Except now you've said that only the rich get to go. That's no better than the situation we have now.

    • Maybe instead of an online first-come first-serve process Google should hold a ticket lottery for those who want to attend, That will help get the tickets into the hand of pre-qualified developers instead of eBay ticket scalpers.

      That won't help. They need to print your name on the ticket. If your ID doesn't match the name on the ticket, you don't get in.

  • Of course, everyone who gets in drives away in a free Tesla.

    What reference am I missing here?

    • Re:A Tesla? (Score:5, Informative)

      by raitchison (734047) * <robert@aitchison.org> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:34PM (#39486903) Homepage Journal

      The ever increasing "stuff" that attendees get, a few years ago everyone got a Nexus One, a couple years ago I forget but last year people got a XOOM tablet and some other multi-hundred-dollar gizmo.

      • Ah, thanks! Maaaan... In that case, I do wish I could go. I love new gizmos, especially the multi-hundred-dollar variety.

      • Re:A Tesla? (Score:4, Informative)

        by updog (608318) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:40PM (#39487911) Homepage
        Actually last year it was a Galaxy Tab 10.1 (not a XOOM), a ChromeBook with 2 years free 3G, and a Verizon 4G hotspot with 3 months of free service for everyone; and for some attending certain sessions, an Xperia and an Adruino ADK.
      • by spacepimp (664856)

        Actually it was a Samsung Tab 10.1 with an Android on the back (limited edition), and a Chromebook?

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Historically, I/O attendees received giveaways that exceeded the ticket cost in value.

      For example, 2011 attendees paid $350 I believe, and received, at a minimum, a tablet worth $500 (Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1).

      This year, the ticket price was increased to $900, the question of course is - will the swag value increase or decrease? If it decreases or stays steady, it may not sell out so fast next year. If it increases to match the ticket price - this problem will continue because the conference becomes effect

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame, because a couple of these guys are Java wizards with a strong interest in developing for Android. A simple programming challenge at the gate would've thwarted all the posers.

    Oh, well. I guess I'll start learning Objective-C.

    • by FunkyELF (609131)

      If they are indeed a couple of Java wizards with a strong interest in developing for Android, they don't need to go to Google IO to do so.

  • All Google has to do is ban scalping of the tickets. You buy a ticket, YOU get in, not the holder of the ticket.

    • Agreed. For all the technology and data store that Google has, they're probably be able to barcode the tickets to your DNA. It should be a no-transfer ticket, but you can turn your ticket back in and allow them to send them to wait-listed people if you decide you can't make it. Sort of an enforced don't-be-evil requirement for attendees!

  • From what I saw... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Necroman (61604) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:43PM (#39487075)

    I ended up getting a ticket, though I'm giving it to a co-worker (who work is paying to send).

    From what I saw, it wasn't actually a first-come first-serve setup. One of my co-workers who got in "queue" before me didn't get a ticket. I started about 5 minutes after they were posted and I got a ticket. So it seems that once you were in their queue, it may have been random who they gave the tickets to.

    I can't speak for others, but I attended Google I/O for their GWT (Google Web Toolkit) and related talks. The GWT sessions were actually rather popular, even though Android is the hip tech that everyone is interested in. I'm guessing people also wanted to attend the Android talks in hopes of getting free phones (some of the talks last year gave phones to people who went to that specific session).

    If I was a student in the Bay area, I would definitely fork over the money (only $300 for students) to get the free swag. But for a regular priced ticket ($900), plus hotel and travel, I figured it would have cost me around $2600. I couldn't justify that cost, especially since all the talks are posted to Youtube within a few days of the conference.

    • If I was a student in the Bay area, I would definitely fork over the money (only $300 for students) to get the free swag.

      If you're forking over $300 - then the swag isn't free. It cost $300.

      • by Necroman (61604)

        point taken. :-D But last year at a minimum, everyone got a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a Chromebook. If I would have ebay both of them, I would have made around $1200 (and tickets were $500 last year for full-price).

        But I guess I could argue the $300 is covering food and drinks. They feed you breakfast and lunch for the 3 days of the conference. As well there is 1 night of partying (with free alcohol, and live music (last year it was Jane's Addiction)).

        • Unless they're particularly inefficient, or you're a particularly heavy drinker/eater... they're making a profit of about $200-250 if you just look at applying it to the food.

      • by gparent (1242548)

        If you're going to correct people on basic economics, consider that the swag they get greatly exceeds the cost of the conference. It literally costs nothing. Now if you want to include hotel, airfare, that's another story, but it doesn't apply to every attendee.

  • by Lucas123 (935744) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @01:53PM (#39487249) Homepage
    Personally, I like PCIe for internal and fiber optics for external. I don't think Google is even a hardware or network service provider. It's no wonder it sold out so quickly.
  • A Better Way (Score:2, Interesting)

    Google should post an open-ended problem. Those with the best solution get in for free, the worse your solution, the higher your cost. If you invent a one-of-a-kind, genius solution, Google hires you.
    • by asylumx (881307)
      In soviet google, genius solution invents you.
    • by jittles (1613415)

      Google should post an open-ended problem. Those with the best solution get in for free, the worse your solution, the higher your cost. If you invent a one-of-a-kind, genius solution, Google hires you.

      How many times are you going to post the same comment in the same thread? And why are people modding both comments up?

  • by updog (608318) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:33PM (#39487827) Homepage
    WIth 6,250 queries *per* *second* when registration opened at 7AM, it's not the least bit surprising not everyone who wanted a ticket got one: https://plus.google.com/107117483540235115863/posts/iyc4arLjidR [google.com]

    i.e., the few thousand tickets available could have theoretically been sold out in seconds. The Moscone Center West would not even have the capacity for 25K+ Google employees, let alone the 10's of thousands of developers/students who would like to attend. My only point here is that there's a lot of demand and very little supply, so there's going to be a lot of disappointed people. I don't think a better registration system, programming challenges, doubling capacity, a lottery, etc will do much to placate everyone who wants a ticket. Perhaps the only sensible way to reduce demand would to be double, triple, or quadruple the price.

    FWIW, I've been in 2009 and 2011 - in my experience, it's mostly engineers, developers and others interested in and actively working on Google technology - not people there for just for the freebies (although they are certainly welcomed).

    • Bigger venue. If 100K people want to attend your event and pay $900 each, rent a bigger tent.
    • by ADRA (37398)

      Google employees and good friends didn't have to wait for tickets. My contemporary got his tickets couple weeks ago, and he may not even go...

  • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:53PM (#39488097) Homepage Journal

    Any of the following is probably better than "first come first served" when "first come" is hard to determine or unfair to large numbers of potential attendees

    1) Auction to the highest bidder. Takes scalping (mostly) out of the equation but locks out those of limited means. If you pride yourself on being non-greedy, donate the "over the face value" profits to charity.
    2) Limit "1 per organization" and prohibit transfers outside of a pre-files small list of alternate users. Limits scalping.
    3) Invitation-only event.
    4) Require participation to attend, e.g. submit a paper, if it's accepted, you get in but you also have to / get to present your paper.
    5) Require you submit a portfolio showing your presence is desirable for others who are there and/or that you are likely to benefit from attending more than someone else in line.
    6) Lottery.
    7) "Diversity" factors, e.g. we want 40%-50% of the attendees to be experts in the topic of the conference, 10%-20% to be newbies, and 30%-50% to be somewhat knowledgeable in the topic. Or, we don't want any more than 10% of attendees from the same company or more than 25% from the same industry segment.

    There are other ways to "shake things up a bit" as well.

    You can do this with just about any "over-subscribed" event from concert tickets to elementary-school transfer requests.

    "First come first served" has its place, but when people start standing in line early for the sole purpose of making a buck on eBay, then either they are denying others who really should be there but can't pay $$$ a slot or they are denying you or your charity the $$$ you could've made with an auction.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      I would think Google would want to base the tickets on how active people are on Google+ and how INactive they are on Facebook (no doubt they have a way to track that down). Yeah, I'd even use Google+ for some swag.

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