Google Wave, the online collaborative tool heralded as the future of not only email but online communication in its entirety has reached the shore and died out. The ambitious project, predicted by Google to replace email in the same way as the computer spelt the end for the typewriter looked like it was going to achieve much; unfortunately users struggled with the interface and questioned not only how to use it, but also how it would benefit them in the long run?
Google Wave, announced on May 27th 2009 and opened to the general public just under a year later will no longer have development support from Google as a standalone service, although it is expected that the site will remain in place at least until the end of the year. Essentially created as a communications tool, it allowed real time document collaboration whilst combining chat functionality.
In the beginning use of Google Wave was by invitation only, leading people to treasure their invites, some even sold them on online auction site eBay. Despite an initial furore however, the wave became more of a ripple as increasing numbers of people became despondent with the usability of the application.
Despite the criticisms however, Google will have learnt much from the Wave experiment. Wave was the ideal platform for Google to test new technologies and assess which elements of the application worked and which did not. Undoubtedly elements of the technology will be extended into other Google products in the future.
Lessons will certainly have been learnt, Google themselves will actually be positive about the project even if certain sections of the media are not. Essentially, Wave shows that Google are still pushing boundaries, pursuing progression and not resting on their laurels. In the words of Chief Exec Eric Schmidt “we [Google] celebrate our failures” reminding members of the press that in the Google culture it is fine to “try something that’s very hard… and take learning from that”.
Ultimately Google Wave will be remembered as a good idea poorly executed, which failed to achieve mass recognition and usage. Elements of the project however will almost certainly play a part in future developments at Google and questions may even be asked in regards to the invitation only marketing strategy.