Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wave (Again)

I read another article today about the demise of Google Wave. In some ways, I think the author missed the point of Wave—but, at the same time, neither did the author deny that. In fact, it was part of the point of the post: What was Google Wave? What was it supposed to be for?

The author didn’t seem to get what Google Wave was, and believes that Google might have overhyped it; personally, I believe that a lot of the hype was justified—Wave was meant to replace email, and IM, and maybe even documents—but I definitely agree that Google’s message on Wave was muddy, at best. Their press seemed to be saying, “Google Wave is great! It’s amazing! It’s revolutionary! It does… well… some stuff. And it does it really, really well! And you should use it! And if you do… then maybe you’ll figure out what it is that Wave does.” It’s hard to get people excited about something when they don’t know what it is.

The author of this article said something similar:

Not only did Google fail to define Wave, it also promoted it clumsily. I’ve written before about Google’s strange habit of releasing lots of products with overlapping features—Wave, for instance, shared traits with Google Talk, Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Buzz. Wave seems to have lost out in this internal fight for users’ attention. It was Buzz, not Wave, that won a prized place inside Gmail, where it could instantly win lots of attention. Wave, meanwhile, was actively separated from Gmail—if someone wrote you in Wave, you wouldn’t get any notice in Gmail. Google eventually added e-mail notification for Waves, but by that time the ship had sailed. Wave had already been defined as an online ghetto—no one was there, so why should anyone join?
I definitely agree with this. Especially about the integration issues between Gmail, Wave, and Buzz. From the outside looking in, it seems that Buzz might have won some political wars within Google that Wave lost; it probably would have been a bad idea to integrate both Wave and Buzz into Gmail at the same time, but putting Buzz inside Gmail got it a lot of immediate exposure—even though I believe Buzz still isn’t getting used as much as Google would like—whereas Wave, as the author says, has become an online ghetto.

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