4 Reasons Why Folks Didn't Like Google Wave

By Joseph Calamia | August 5, 2010 11:14 am

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]

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  • http://Untitledvanityproject.blogspot.com Rhacodactylus

    In all honesty, I wish I had heard about Google wave before it was disappearing; I have no clue whether I would have eventually adopted it, but I somehow missed the boat on even trying it. I have several friends who have had similar thoughts. I would say Reason 5: If you weren’t looking for it, you might not have seen it.

  • steve

    Bottom line: it was not explained well. Very few people even knew what they heck it was supposed to be, let alone had a use for it.

    And another big factor – a lot of folks never knew it existed.

  • Allison

    I tried it but every time I logged on, it made my computer slow to a crawl. It didn’t matter which browser I used. I use a 2 Ghz Macbook Pro. After about a half dozen attempts, I gave up.

  • tgentry

    I agree, Steve. I have no clue about what Wave was supposed to be. It sounds like the guy doing the promo above isn’t even clear on what it is. It’s sort of a chat, message board, email thingy. Well that’s not a very good sales tactic. Maybe it’s a great idea, but right now it looks like this behemoth thing that will take a long time to learn and may or may not be better. It needs to be boiled down it’s essence and promoted in a much simpler fashion. Asking one person to adopt this new app when they don’t understand it is one thing, but the app itself requires that you and your friends and coworkers all be on it for it to work. In this day and age when everyone is running twenty different chats, emails, and social networking sites, how likely is it that you’re going to get all of your friends, families, and coworkers on board this…. thingy.

  • Craig

    Another thing to remember: It was clunky to use and many features were not implemented yet. Also, why didn’t they advertise a beta for Gmail users? I only heard about it from a random link. I think it has potential, but it needs work.

  • Beth

    I had the same experiences as Allison – it slowed me to a “force quit” several times on a 1 ghz PowerBook. It seems that even GMail will do it on occasion even now. I really liked the idea, and with better marketing and a retooled product, I’d gladly try it again.

  • Chip

    Everyone I know who has tried it didn’t like it, and *all* for the same few reasons:

    1) It was just chat with some Web 2.0 crap attached

    2) It was slow

    3) It was unstable

    Why are these 3 reasons never mentioned in any of these “analysis” pieces that breathlessly talk about how “ahead of it’s time” it was, or go on about the marketing angle? The core users– people who need to collaborate on documents– didn’t like it because it was slow, unstable, and didn’t really do that much you couldn’t do with basic chat and DCC.

  • Jennifer Angela

    I was not informed about the existence of it. I would have attempted to use it, being a huge fan of google products. (By the way: If anybody ever wants to send a comment to me on one of my comments: missymails10@gmail.com is one of my private e-mail addies, so feel free to provide me with your feedback there, if you like – I appreciate your opinion!) I love the google chat function on gmail and having made use of it, I dare say it IS faster than ANY other instant messaging product I have tried so far. I agree with Rhako on what he said: I would have enjoyed applying Google Wave too. Thus I also find it a pity it´s gone. It´s too bad my g-mail addies weren´t “telling me” all about it!

  • http://www.karlkapp.blogspot.com Karl Kapp

    I think another problem is the way it was introduced which is under scored in the video. You had to get an invite and if you don’t have your “boss,” “co-worker” and “video guy” on a wave then the entire communication cycle breaks down. With social media, you need to have a critical mass and with the stingy invites, it took too long.

    Also, I think it should have been better explained as well, it is basically a project management tool for linking all communications about projects together. Oh, well as long as Google keeps putting out a lot of stuff, some will stick and some…not so much.

  • http://www.sold2.us what is subjective

    Many thanks and Excellent luck!


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