Wave goodbye: Google lacks bottle

Are Google turning into another Apple? My local consumer org describes Apple's products as iCandy. Are Google turning into a mega-corporation peddling hype and product hysteria? Is that what Google did with Google Wave? I think it is even more cynical than that.

Regular readers know I'm a Google fan. Heck I sold my soul. I want to get my desktop down to only a browser (Chrome). I can't find a web-based text editor as good as Word for writing my books, certainly not Google Docs. Google Docs spreadsheet has a ways to go but I use it for 80% of spreadsheets. And I'm too lazy/busy to learn a replacement to Visio. But email is on GMail, and lots of my business and personal docs are on Google Docs. I write all my presentations on GDocs. I use Adsense, Adwords, and Analytics. My homepage is iGoogle and I use Reader, Trends and who knows what else. I'm a Googlophile. I watch Google and I expect them to continue to be a game-changer in the twenty-teens. Watch Android and Chromium.

So when Google Wave came out and I tried it and couldn't quite see the point, I figured it was just a matter of time. The internet is just a technology. So are virtualisation and the Cloud. On their own they have no interest to most of the community beyond IT geeks. It is what they make possible that is transformational, game changing. Google told us Wave was going to change everything, but just like those other technologies, on its own it's not much. If it is really truly all the Google hype said it is, then its potential should be huge. But ti won't emerge overnight. It could take years or even decades for someone to have the bright idea that produces the killer app that makes Google Wave change the world. The 8086 needed Pong, the internet needed the browser, SMS needed twitter, e-commerce needed Amazon, the Cloud hasn't found it yet... Nor had Wave.

Google are smart. They must know this. They've got buckets of money (actually if my Adsense revenues are anything to go by they only have a fraction of the money they thought they'd have about now, but compared to a tech startup they have a bit more than most). So why pull the plug after one year? No balls? They've made plenty of gutsy calls. But they certainly lacked the "bottle" to see it out. Why?

Maybe Wave was just a mass of marketing floss that needed to suck in lots of users quickly to get critical mass before users woke up that it was... just a mass of marketing floss.

Oops that didn't work.

No that's too cynical. In the little time I dabbled with it I could see that it was special. I could imagine that all sorts of transformational things might be possible given real-time concurrent editing. I couldn't think what though (If I could I'd be writing this from somewhere other than a Wellington winter).

So what then? The technical feature of concurrent editing is creeping into Google Docs. I think someone made a business call that whatever emerges will emerge there eventually without all the investment in Wave: that the same result can be had for less investment and less risk.

To hell with any startups busy developing for the Wave. To hell with any brave pioneers building collaboration and communities around it. Can it. That's not evil, it's just business. Now THAT's cynical.


From the point of adoption

From the point of adoption Google Wave failed miserably, despite all its hype. So had those brave pioneers continued building collaboration and communities around wave, they would have been rather alone - even if Google had continued developing on the platform. So I really doubt that those startups would had been able to make a decent earning from Wave anyway.

Wave was an experiment that failed, which is the reason Google pulled the plug on developing it further. That's not evil nor cynical. It's really about cutting the loss.

It's not dead

Well, as a separate product it's dead. But I fully expect to see the technologies appearing in all the google products. The apps products have had communal editing for a while, especially spreadsheets.

I thought wave was great, but if it's not right there in my gmail then I'm never going to remember to load it up. Where was my "continue this conversation in wave" button?

My guess is that they were reluctant to tinker with their flagship product (gmail) and risk losing trust and users. That might've happened if they'd big banged wave into gmail, but if they (as I expect) incrementally add features -- as they've been doing through gmail labs since gmail started -- then it'll be fine.

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