Yesterday, Google announced yesterday on “The Official Google Blog” that it would shutting down Google Wave. Google Wave was a web app for real time communication and collaboration for those of you that don’t know. Many of you will remember that Google Wave was announced last year at Google’s annual I/O conference to much fanfare, even if honestly most folks didn’t really know what it was. In the end, that seems to be the biggest issue, Google never really showed people why they needed it and didn’t really do much to integrate it with any of their existing products.
Google Wave was ahead of its time in many ways combining the ability to see character-by-character real time typing, drag and drop files from the desktop and even the ability to “playback” conversations so that you could catch up at your own pace. It all seemed great, and people were lining up by the drooves to get an invite, me included. When I did finally get one, I won’t say that I was unimpressed, but I will say that it wasn’t the most intuitive thing I have ever used. Google never really did a great job of distinguishing to the average user why Wave was any better than email or IM.
By most folks Google Wave will be considered a failure and it in a lot of respects it is, but they should have learned some very interesting things from Wave, and components of it will no doubt be incorporated into upcoming products, possibly even the Chrome OS where it may better fit, perhaps as some kind of native hybrid chat client. According to the post, Google will continue to develop Wave as a standalone product and will maintain support for the site through at least the end of the year so get your last few waves in. Google also says that they will try to provide tools that will allow users who have been using Wave to “liberate” their content from Wave and possibly move it onto another platform.
As a company, I really like a lot of what Google stands for and what they are about, but for all their innovation in search technology and other areas they just can’t seem to really get this social media thing right. I don’t know if its because the idea of social media is such a “soft” concept that its just really hard for their people to wrap their heads around how the average person does and would like to communicate or what but they definitely have some work to do.
For a company valuated as high as Google, how many areas besides search do they have a significant advantage in? Of the products that I think can be called real successes that increase the company’s value I would say their are actually very few: Gmail, Google Apps, Google Maps, Google News, Android, Chrome/Chrome OS, Search and YouTube though they didn’t actually develop that. I think that Google really has to focus on a few things, while they would love to be all over the place, that’s just not good business. They really need to focus on development of Android in terms of mobile, Chrome OS in terms of devices, Chrome browser on that front and figuring out if they actually want to be a real challenger to Microsoft with Google Apps and if so put the kind of money into it that it will take.
But anyway, what do you think of demise of Google Wave, let us know.