Tide Turns on Google Wave
It takes longer to stop an oil spill than kill a tech product these days.
Just over a year ago, Google provided a glimpse of Google Wave at its annual developer conference. It wasnt exactly clear what Google Wave was, but it was pretty darn impressive. It was the latest from Google that was to revolutionize web communications and collaboration--built by some of its smartest engineers sequestered in a skunk-works lab down-under. It was released under closed beta last fall with great excitement, and just a few months ago publicly released to a dull thud.
"It was killed abruptly because no one was buying it and there no was no credible reason to believe anyone would." That quote is from a unnamed Microsoft executive in a NYT article referring to the Microsoft Kin phone. Same story--different conglomerate. It takes longer to stop an oil spill than kill a tech product these days.
Google Wave was spearheaded by brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, formerly of Google Maps, which was formerly Where 2 Tech before being acquired by Google. The vision was a single communications model that could span all or most of the models in use on the web today. A "wave" was described as "equal parts conversation and document." An incredible goal, further expanded with the hope to deliver new forms of communication rather than electronic forms of pre-web tools. But the problem with "best of" solutions, is sometimes they become "worst of". No one knew what to do with Wave.
Wave didn't replace email, though it offered some email capabilities. It offered multi-party Instant Messaging with chronological playback, but didn't play well with existing IM networks. It offered document mark-ups and collaboration, but it wasn't familiar. It had Wiki and social aspects too--but Google Wave didn't really replace anything. Google Wave was a hodgepodge of cutting edge real-time collaboration, creation, and communication tools determined best unused. Emails death continues to be exaggerated.
Google Senior VP of Operations Urs H�lzle announced the demise of Wave via blog: "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We dont plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product...central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Waves innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source." Both of those cited features are already incorporated into other Google products (character by character collaboration is now part of Google Docs, and drag and drop attachment support was added to Gmail).