Wave goodbye: Google cans collaboration tool after low adoption

5th Aug 2010

Google has canned Wave as a standalone product due to lack of user interest, but the web-based real-time communication and collaboration tool will continue to live on as part of other initiatives.

Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president of operations and Google Fellow said in a blog yesterday that the search giant no longer planned to "continue developing Wave as a standalone product" as it had "not seen the user adoption we would have liked".
But he added that the firm would "maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects". The offering enables users to share text, images, videos and the like in real-time.
Key parts of the Wave code such as drag-and-drop functionality and character-by-character live typing have already been made available to the open source community so that further development of product can continue. But Hoelzle promised that Google would also build tools to help existing users remove their content from Wave for use elsewhere.
The vendor first released the offering to much fanfare at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco in June last year, before opening it up for beta testing by 100,000 users. It became publicly available in early March and was included in Google’s online personal productivity suite of applications.
But tech website CNet said that Wave’s demise could at least partly be attributed to Buzz, an online messaging tool that is integrated with the firm’s Gmail email offering and enables consumers to consolidate links, social media status messages, photos etc into their inbox.
It explained: "While Wave was pitched mainly as a collaboration and productivity tool for small groups, Buzz was for entertainment and communication with friends. It stole some of the limelight in offering a place for users to view and interact with photos, links and conversations. Users could do the same thing on the back of Wave, but it wasn’t tied to an already immensely popular product."
It is currently unclear whether some of Wave’s functionality will re-emerge in the much talked about ‘Google Me’ social media platform, which is expected to rival Facebook, however.
Commentators have been unsurprised by the downfall of the collaborative tool.
"From the beginning, Wave was an ill-defined product. Its very strength - its lack of definition - was also its greatest weakness as you could do any of the things incorporated into Wave in other, more accessible, fashions," said Jonathan Yarmis, an Ovum senior research fellow.
"The ongoing growth of things like Facebook and Twitter probably killed Wave, as conversations that might have taken place there instead migrated to either a social platform (Facebook) or a more conversational tool (Twitter). Even Google Buzz played a role in Wave's death as the two were somewhat similarly targeted but Buzz, being more Twitter-like, was easier to understand and embrace.
"One should never be surprised when Google terminates an initiative. When you come right down to it, they're a one-trick pony (search/advertising). Everything else is merely distraction, or survives in its ability to feed the advertising beast, which represents 98% of Google's revenue. Of course, fortunately for Google, that one trick is a really good trick.
Speculating about Google's future plans, Yarmis added: "Wave may actually get reincarnated in very different fashion if/when Google launches its rumored Facebook competitor. The battleground for social networking and collaboration has changed since Wave was introduced and thus the design target for a socially-enabled collaboration platform has changed. 
"If and when Google introduces its platform (and really, it's just a question of when), this would have obsoleted Wave anyhow. This way they just put a bullet in it now, so when they introduce the next platform, the focus isn't on how this co-exists with Wave or what this means for Wave or anything like that. Wave is gone, will be quickly forgotten and when Google does the next thing, for the most part no one will focus on Wave."

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By Tibor Kazimir
09th Aug 2010 15:12

Google Wave was a [***] up from the beginning - it never had a proper launch, instead drip feeding it into the community by recommendations which presumably was designed to stir up word of mouth, which I guess it kind of did for a while. But then came the crushing disappointment when it was used. What was it for? Nobody really knew. And then there was all the problems with privacy which covered it in a black cloud. Buzz's launch was a tacit admission by Google that it had released a dud. I can't imagine anyone mourning the passing of Wave though it may yet have a successful afterlife as part of an enterprise 2.0 set up.

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