Wave goodbye to Google Wave - but why did it fail?
You remember Google Wave, right? No? What do you mean you've never used it? And that's the point, ladies and gentleman.
Cast your mind back to last September, and tech-minded punters were flagellating themselves over the advent of Google Wave, without knowing anything about it; Google built up an insane amount of hype for its new product, the sort usually reserved for the World Cup and public executions. Only 100,000 Gmail users were initially invited to trial it, immediately creating a black market with invites selling for several hundred pounds a piece.
And when these folks finally got a peek at the Greatest Thing Ever in the Known 'Verse™, the collective opinion was... eh?
The attempt to re-invent email by transforming it into a real-time stream of shared media was a rare misstep by Google (but one it's since compounded with Google Buzz, of course). Wave made sense if we all had access to the service and found ourselves needing to collaborate all day long, but most of us don't and so we didn't.
We use email to share information with specific people on an adhoc basis, and in that context Wave felt like it was solving a problem nobody suffered. The fact that Google restricted invites to 100,000 actually helped to kill it; when interest in the service peaked, nobody with one of the golden tickets necessarily knew anybody else who also had the service, rendering Wave pointless. Another key advantage of email is convenience - we answer it as and when we choose to; we don't need or necessarily want it to be a real-time service that demands immediate attention.
And so last night, Google called time on Wave:
We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication. The use cases we’ve seen show the power of this technology: 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.
But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.
Maybe it's all Google's fault for using words like 'jazzed'. Nobody speaks like that outside Google HQ, in much the same way nobody realised the "power of their technology". So there'll be no more thought or effort put into Wave, although the service will remain operational until the end of the year. After that, you're on your own - although if you're a current Google Wave user, the feeling will already be eerily familiar.
Next up from Google is likely to be their attempt at tackling Facebook head-on, with some sort of social media offering mixed in with social gaming. But after massive missteps with both Wave and Buzz, Google's no longer looking like the sure bet for web dominance it was just a year ago.