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February 05, 2007

The Latest Google Flatline

Talk about your coincidences. No sooner did we read Nick Gonzalez's Google Flatlines Again article in Techcrunch than we had a Google product let us down as well:

February 2, 2007: Google Pen Runs Out.

Scott Grieder, Ask.com Group Product Manager, was taking notes on an important conference call when his Google Pen ran out of ink without warning. The lapse in this fundamental Google product/service forced him to switch pens at a critical moment, resulting in considerable inconvenience and loss of data.

"I should have known better than to use a free Google product for business purposes." Scott told us in a recent interview. "Google Pen is fine for home use, but not when my company's productivity is on the line. I had to switch pens in the middle of taking notes. There's no telling how much data I lost."

Below is a screenshot showing the sudden drop in productivity as a result of the Google Pen flatlining:

The barrel and cartridge of the pen are transparent, allowing the user to see inside the pen, and presumably determine when Google Pen will run out of ink. But due to possibly sub-par materials, the ink stains the inside of the clear cartridge, giving the impression that the pen still has plenty of ink.

"Now I have to apply all my current behaviors and processes to another pen," Grieder explained. "How long will that take? I used to trust Google to stand behind their products. I guess I was wrong."

He added, "Thanks a lot, Google Pen. I guess you get what you pay for."

--The Ask.com Team

UPDATE: It's working again. Turns out there was ink in it after all. Thanks to Matt Cutts who suggested we "try shaking it a lot."

UPDATE: It just ran out again.

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Tracked on Feb 7, 2007 10:26:51 AM


The same thing happened to me. I switched to Ask pen about 6 months ago and it's working fine!

Thanks guys!


Posted by: Kevin Burton | Feb 5, 2007 3:12:30 PM

What's worse than the Google Pen outage is the unfixed security vulnerability connected to this product. Ram it into your left leg with some considerable force to reproduce this issue.

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen | Feb 5, 2007 3:31:34 PM

Don't you have an Ask pen?

Posted by: Brinke Guthrie | Feb 5, 2007 3:59:01 PM

Google Pen is a "Beta" product. I recommend Uni-Ball.

Posted by: Josue | Feb 5, 2007 4:06:24 PM

Thank you for being courageous enough to bring this to light. I realize that google will attempt to remove this site from their index in order to silence you but we can try to spread the word in the mean time. Based on this latest failure I will be re-evaluating my companies use of google products for work related purposes.

As for getting it working again - you could risk a blue tongue and try sucking on it - [in private if you're dude].
Or better try leaving it soak in a shot glass with a splash of vodka, that might dissolve any dried ink and get things flowing again - be sure that the shot glass has absolutely no dust or particles, the best way to ensure this is to have everyone do an overflowing shot prior to soaking the pen.

Good Luck.

Posted by: Ann E. Mouse | Feb 5, 2007 4:59:28 PM

Oh, no! I better check up on all my Google pens...and what if my Google Shirt malfunctions?

Ode to last SuperBowl :)

Great post - hilarious.

Posted by: Joe Dolson | Feb 5, 2007 7:28:41 PM

Doh! Scott or Ken, do you have a corporate address "care of" Ask where we could send additional backup pens?

Posted by: Matt Cutts | Feb 5, 2007 7:57:51 PM

hilarious! :)

Posted by: ukio | Feb 6, 2007 12:16:10 AM

Give it a break. It's still in beta testing :)

Posted by: Pierre | Feb 6, 2007 2:21:27 AM

Hahaha! ^^ You know, it is indeed a Google product... I think you should file a support ticket or something on this!

Posted by: Daniel Aleksandersen | Feb 6, 2007 6:22:59 AM

I have experienced the same failure in Google pens. It's a sad commentary on their commitment to put the needs of the user first.

Posted by: Jill | Feb 6, 2007 6:38:04 AM

You accidentally logged out when you were using the Google Pen. It automatically remembers your Personalized Ink Levels and downloads additional content - first asking your permission, of course.

Also try the Desktop Gadget version of Google Pen. You don't need Wi-Fi for downloading the ink.

Posted by: Krishna Kumar | Feb 6, 2007 7:03:40 AM

Priceless, this had me rolling on the floor this morning. Love the snarky attitude and the comments about the over-reliance on Google Free!

Thanks, Guys! Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Matt Bailey | Feb 6, 2007 7:50:31 AM

Google Pen is still in "Beta".

Posted by: Josue | Feb 6, 2007 8:38:20 AM

Mine has never flatlined. I like my Google pen, backpack, Mini and Polo Shirts -

Can I have a free Ask pen now????

Posted by: David Saunders | Feb 6, 2007 9:04:05 AM

Yeah, I brought home two Google pens from MindCamp last year. My wife loved the feel and how they wrote and promptly stole them from me. You'd think Google could provide better security for their products.

Posted by: TMS | Feb 6, 2007 11:42:27 AM

Surely you were running the Windows version of the Google Pen. If it were an Apple version, the juices would have kept flowing. Your note taking would be easy as pie!


P. S. Sorry if this description got a little saucy :-)

Posted by: Help Me Dude | Feb 6, 2007 4:47:22 PM

Google Pen_Beta obviously.

Sounds like it may have been a Bad Data Push or your pen has gone supplemental. I'd file a reinclussion request and wait 30 days to see if it works then. Meanwhile work on good unique content and build high quality natural links. Was it an affiliate pen? Perhaps you should try a Google-Wiki pen those always show up on top for any word you'd like to write.

I wish I had one of those Ask2.0 pens.

Posted by: JLH | Feb 6, 2007 5:02:16 PM

Damn, the future is not what it used to be any longer! What's next ... no sauce? :-)


Posted by: Arnaud Fischer | Feb 6, 2007 5:27:22 PM

This happens all the time. To start using a Google pen again, send this one in with all your customer's data and behavior patterns. In return, Google will send you a "free" pen.

Posted by: MichaelS | Feb 7, 2007 9:17:54 AM

I guess the issue is not just about the pen. This has something to do with search engine rivalry!

Posted by: nicole cruz | Feb 8, 2007 12:01:30 AM

It would be helpful if you could post the current weight of the pen when empty... this way the rest of us who rely on the Google Pen could have a better warning system that it is soon to be empty...
Maybe and Ask Pen Scale should be provided...

Posted by: JR | Feb 8, 2007 11:02:04 AM

I actually had an issue with a Google Memory Key that I got at an AdWords seminar. While it's still functional and I didn't have any data loss, the Google logo did wear off quite easily and I was disappointed in that.

Posted by: Jonathan Dingman | Feb 10, 2007 7:34:20 PM

This is great! Made me laugh on a Sunday when I have to work. ;-)

Posted by: Todd | Feb 11, 2007 4:06:21 AM

Sounds like it may have been a Bad Data Push or your pen has gone supplemental.

Posted by: poeziile.com | Feb 12, 2007 5:33:18 AM

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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