Google, Communications, and Collaboration: Looking for Signs of Commitment
With Google Wave's demise, I'm no longer looking to Google for the next big thing in the communications and collaboration space. What I'm looking for is commitment to the market for communications and collaboration solutions.
I'm not overly distraught about the ...early death of Google Wave. I personally found it complicated and awkward, in no way intuitive as a means of collaborating with co-workers on a particular project and much too narrow in the sorts of processes it could help streamline. But I've never been much of an early adopter and assumed all the question marks were floating only over my head as I tried to noodle out ways my company could benefit from using Google Wave. (Google Voice and Google Docs, on the other hand, I've found wonderfully intuitive and at various times useful in my work life.) ...Tom Nolle had much clearer ideas when it came to use cases. He proposed that healthcare organizations create patient chart Waves that could "link to the tests that had been taken, doctors' and nurses' notes, and even real-time telemetry if the patient was being monitored continuously." And by combining it with Robots and Gadgets, Tom speculated that Wave could help propel Google into the unified communications market. Wave was clearly interesting to some, and has been ...adopted by a number of businesses thinking outside of the box when it comes to intra-company collaboration. But the adoption rate was clearly not high enough and this week Google pulled the plug on further development of Wave.
As an industry analyst who tracks software and solutions that businesses use for communications, I'm often asked about Google's role in the industry. I generally respond that ...Google Enterprise is focused mainly on search tools and cloud-based office productivity apps, not on comms and collaboration. But don’t discount Google, my response continues. The company has a number of communications-oriented products--Google Voice, Google Wave, and a Skype-like internet voice service that came courtesy of its acquisition of Gizmo5 late last year. These are mainly focused on consumers, but trends in the consumerization of IT could easily propel usage of these and other Google products in the enterprise as well.
What I am in fact distraught about is Google's generally cavalier approach to the collaboration and communications market. It acquired two developers of voice and video codecs, GIPS and On2, but provided no insight into what it plans to do with these companies and their technology. It acquired Gizmo5, but closed its Skype-like internet telephony service to new subscribers and, again, provided no insight into its plans for the service. It launched Wave in a hullabaloo of marketing hype, and closed it down a year later when people did not flock to it in droves. Not commenting on intentions and future plans is a hallmark for this company. But it will in no way endear itself to businesses counting their communications and collaboration options.