A while back, Google announced the development of Google Wave; a web-based communications product that seemed to have quite a bit of potential. With features such as character-by-character real-time messaging and scalable group collaboration, Wave promised to be the next big thing in terms of Internet communication. When invites first became available, people were anxious to get their hands on them and try the revolutionary new product. But shortly after Wave was announced, the attention towards it died down dramatically. In an October 2009 post, Jeff questioned if Wave would ever make it into the mainstream and if people would ever adapt to it. And today in a blog post on the official Google blog, Google seems to have answered that question by stating that they are going to discontinue the development of Google Wave.
Does this announcement surprise me in the least? Not at all. In fact, I pretty much had forgotten about Google Wave until I heard about this announcement today. Sure, I was enthusiastic about Wave when it was first released, but the fact of the matter became that no one was using it, and it was a lot more complicated than other forms of Internet communication.
One of the early walls that Google ran into with Wave was the fact that it was simply not supported by Internet Explorer; the most popular web browser to date. This meant that large numbers of people (especially those with locked down corporate machines) were unable to take advantage of Wave from the get go. Because of this, Google developed Chrome Frame; an add-on to Internet Explorer that allowed users to use Google Chrome from within Internet Explorer. However even this did not attract high numbers of people to Wave.
In their blog post today Google made a point that the technology in Wave served a number of purposes, such as “sharing images and other media in real time; improving spell-checking by understanding not just an individual word, but also the context of each word; and enabling third-party developers to build new tools like consumer gadgets for travel, or robots to check code.” While these are all definitely great uses of the product, the sad fact is that the service didn’t provide any immediate use or benefit to the general public.
While I’m somewhat disappointed that Wave never took off, I am glad to see that the technological innovations behind it are not going to go to waste. This being, Google is going allow people who have developed infrastructures around Wave to “liberate” their products so that they can continue to use and develop them even after Wave is discontinued. Google also says that they plan to “extend the technology for use in other Google projects”; a concept that truly excites me. This being, I expect to see features from Wave implemented into Gmail’s web interface, as well as in collaboration products such as Google Docs and social products such as Google Buzz.
Do you think Google is giving up on Wave too soon? Are you happy to hear that Google is going to implement Wave features into other Google products? Let us know in the comments.