Yesterday, Google announced on their official blog that they’re pulling the plug on Google Wave–an emailing, instant messaging, and picture-sharing progeny, that allowed users to communicate real-time to share documents, videos, and what they had for lunch. If you haven’t heard of Google Wave, first announced last May, you’re not alone. That’s one reason Urs Hölzle, Google Senior Vice President for Operations, cites for the Wave’s demise:
Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. [Google]
But why didn’t more folks ride the Wave? We’ve gathered some opinions.
Reason: It Wasn’t Forced on Us
Google Buzz–a more instant-message-like version of Wave that allows users to share where they’re browsing–seems to be doing well, reportedly having tens of millions of users. Some say that’s because Buzz just appeared as a kind of a growth on Gmail, and some “users” don’t even know they’re using.
It’s hard to say how many of those people are in fact unwittingly signed into Buzz, which Google stealthily slotted into Gmail at the start of this year without first testing it as a separate product. But bolting Buzz directly onto Gmail was always going to give the Web2.0 tool a head start in terms of usage, no matter how many complaints from privacy watchdogs that stacked up in the process. [The Register]
Reason: It Was Before Its Time
Combining all that functionality, may have confused users more comfortable with different software for different purposes:
Although many in the technology industry had long believed Google Wave was underperforming, the news that Google was ending support for one of its most innovative new products came as a surprise to most. “Maybe it was just ahead of its time, or maybe there were just too many features to ever allow it to be defined properly,” said Michael Arrington, editor of influential industry website TechCrunch. [The Telegraph]
Reason: It Was Too Late
Maybe the functionality was just redundant. Sure Google Wave could allow character by character communication in real time, but Wave’s immediacy wasn’t enough to lure users away from already successful and very similar collaboration tools, some already in the Google line, such as Gmail for email, Gchat for messaging, and Google Docs for collaboration.
Sure, Wave let you collaborate with several people at once on documents, share photos with multiple recipients, and it created a searchable, editable stream of pure information. But there are already a raft of tools to do these things–it’s easy enough to use Google Docs to collaborate on documents, there are plenty of photo sharing services users are already invested in, and the search and chat tools inside Gmail are well above par. Wave just seemed a bit too crowded with information–it was e-mail, chat, media sharing and document editing all rolled into one (admittedly busy) interface–and the fucntionality too redundant. [Wired]
Reason: It Was Just One Step
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in comments to reporters at this week’s Techonomy conference that instead of a stand-alone tool, Wave’s advances might fit better as part of another Google program. PC World questions if we might see echoes of Wave in Google’s rumored Facebook competitor: Google Me.
“We liked the (user interface) and we liked a lot of the new features in it (but) didn’t get enough traction, so we are taking those technologies and applying them to new technologies that are not announced. We’ll get the benefit of Google Wave but it won’t be as a separate product.”[CNET]
80beats: Scientists Use Google Earth to Spot a Meteor Crater in Egypt
80beats: Google Exposes a Cyber Attack on Vietnamese Activists
80beats: Google Buzz: The Search Giant’s Attempt at a Facebook-Killer
80beats: Google TV Is Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You