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Google Wave Gone, But Not Quite A Failure

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I'm sure most people have heard the news that Google are to cease development on Google Wave, one of their most hyped products, just a year since it's announcement. 

..Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects. The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began. In addition, we will work on tools so that users can easily “liberate” their content from Wave.

While I'm sure the investment into Wave has cost Google a bit, this reminds me of a quote I read recently from an interview with Joi Ito: 

The good thing is, the cost of failure for open-source is nearly zero. The cost of failure for start-up companies is very small.
The author Clay Shirky talks about this: The cost of failure being low allows you to swing the bat a lot.

Sure, Wave wasn't the success we all thought it would be, but sometimes it's too difficult to live up to the hype. But it's not all waste, and not particularly a failure. I'm sure we'll see a lot of the components that enabled the full Wave concept appear in a lot of the applications we use in the coming years. If anything, this is encouraging for startups and people trying out new products. Players a big as Google can "fail", but there's always a lesson learned to bring forward to the next iteration/venture.



Alessandro Santini replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 6:32am

Personally I did not like Wave at all. The idea was indeed quite interesting, but the user interface was - at least for my tastes - extremely confusing.

Having said that, failures are the intermediate stops of the evolutionary path. If Wave did not tell us how the social apps should be, it told us how they should not be in order to be successful.

Casper Bang replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 6:45am

Agree with Alessandro, UI was too confusing. I wish they had introduced a newbie/dummy mode and then let people switch to the advanced mode if/when they wanted to. But we have to give Google credit for admitting failure, lots of companies won't even consider this until they are flat-lining and had multiple resuscitation attempts (are you listening Sun?).

Gil Collins replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 8:16am

Agreed on the Wave UI, however we got some nice upgrades to the GWT project from it

Andrew Arrigoni replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 8:19am

The UI aside, the biggest problem from an adoption perspective was that it didn't offer a clean and easy way to migrate from the previous model: Email. If I could, say, get my GMail sent to Wave where I could respond, etc. in a convenient way it would've been worth it to move over. I could continue to talk to the people I talked to with Email while those people who used Wave could use the more advanced features. I simply didn't have time in my life to deal with yet another communications platform.

James Sugrue replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 8:23am

Good point Andrew. When I heard about Wave first, I expected that it would just be part of GMail, not another separate thing. I never really got into Wave, but I like the idea of collaborative editing, and have a lot of respect  both for Google's innovation, and in their courage to let it go.

Tim O'farrell replied on Thu, 2010/08/05 - 9:22am

I suspect the reason for the failure has far more to do with Social than technological issues. (Aside from being late to market.) Realistically, wave had to compete with the the other social networking applications - facebook, myspace etc etc...

Since they were late to market the project was DOA - For most users the reaction was simply - "Why should I learn to use this wave thing when I already know how to use <Insert social networking site here>, and my friends all already use <Insert social networking site here>"

Dudu Zerah replied on Tue, 2010/08/10 - 11:32am

I liked wave a lot =/ To me, the best tool to collaborate in projects online.

Gar Labs replied on Tue, 2011/08/23 - 10:01am

Real time chatting was a failure for me. In this real time chat one user can see what other user is typing at that particular moment. It was useful. -GAR Labs

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