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Google Wave Hits a Wall

I still remember hundreds of articles and blog posts over a year ago popping up all over the internet predicting the future of online communication and collaboration, and they had Google Wave written all over them. Here’s are two of those articles:

Unfortunately for Google, things don’t always work out the way everyone expects. Google announced plans to drop support for Google Wave today.

There was tremendous promise and expectation attached to the Google Wave project, even before it was available for testing. Google did a remarkable job building up public support for this project and getting everyone excited about what was in store. Wave was supposed to replace email, instant messaging, and chat. It was going to make file sharing easier for everyone. It was destined to become the premier collaboration tool on the internet. With so much excitement and anticipation built up for Google Wave, it was almost impossible that the project would become anything other than a major success.

So what happened, why did Google Wave flop? I tried Google Wave personally and found myself unimpressed with several aspects of Wave. The most disturbing element of Google Wave for me was the poorly developed user interface. It was difficult to navigate and tedious to accomplish any real work from within Wave. The sign-up process was flawed from the start and Wave was closed to the general public for far too long. Hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise have become huge adopters of the platform were excluded for lack of knowing anyone willing to send an invite. Finally, the system was closed and isolated. Without knowing a large enough group of people already using Wave, there was nothing you could really do in Wave. Unlike email, where anyone you know can be contacted at any moment, you could not contact anyone in Google Wave unless that person already had a Wave account.

The technologies behind Wave are impressive. Given enough work, Wave could have become great as originally intended. I don’t know if Google felt that they tarnished the Wave name somehow, but it’s too bad that they gave up on this project rather than making serious changes in order to salvage it. What did you think of Google Wave? Did you use it? What did you like or dislike about it?


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