This week, Google announced it is to stop developing its Google Wave tool. Jonathan Yarmis, an Ovum senior research fellow, looks into the reasions why the real-time collaboration tool failed catch on with web users.
From the beginning, Wave was an ill-defined product. Its very strength — its lack of definition — was also its greatest weakness as you could do any of the things incorporated into Wave in other, more accessible, fashions.
The ongoing growth of things like Facebook and Twitter probably killed Wave, as conversations that might have taken place there instead migrated to either a social platform (Facebook) or a more conversational tool (Twitter).
Even Google Buzz played a role in Wave’s death as the two were somewhat similarly targeted but Buzz, being more Twitter-like, was easier to understand and embrace.
One should never be surprised when Google terminates an initiative. When you come right down to it, they’re a one-trick pony (search/advertising). Everything else is merely distraction, or survives in its ability to feed the advertising beast, which represents 98% of Google’s revenue. Of course, fortunately for Google, that one trick is a really good trick.
Wave may actually get reincarnated in very different fashion if/when Google launches its rumored Facebook competitor. The battleground for social networking and collaboration has changed since Wave was introduced and thus the design target for a socially-enabled collaboration platform has changed.
If and when Google introduces its platform (and really, it’s just a question of when), this would have obsoleted Wave anyhow. This way they just put a bullet in it now, so when they introduce the next platform, the focus isn’t on how this co-exists with Wave or what this means for Wave or anything like that. Wave is gone, will be quickly forgotten and when Google does the next thing, for the most part no one will focus on Wave.
By Jonathan Yarmis
senior research fellow