Jeff Sexton

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Image representing Google Wave as depicted in ...Image via CrunchBase

Google is ending development on Wave because it has "not seen the user adoption we would have liked." Why has Wave not been a success? There will be a lot of commentary on this, and I'd predict that the main point made will be that Wave provided little that wasn't being done already by other good applications, including cloud applications from Google itself like Docs and Buzz. But I think this misses the mark. After all, the same thing is true of Twitter whose popularity continues to baffle.

It is true that a typical user sees Wave as a communications tool. As such, the very first concern is, "do I the need to check both email and Wave now?"

This point reveals one thing Google could have done a better job of. Wave should have been folded into GMail at least, if not also Reader and Docs right from the beginning. Wave as a stand alone tool (even going to far as to have its own independent user names!) should come as no surprise however given how Google seems to pursue it projects as a multitude of completely independent tracks - toss everything out there, go with what flies.

And so Wave's presentation to the world invites missing its most interesting feature; what Wave is, a question that seemed to be asked endlessly.

What Wave actually does, is provide a federated server environment that can keep synchronized a complex XML structure. This is incredibly powerful, with significant business applications well outside people chatting and sharing a photo "live". I hope Google doesn't miss this point. I don't think they do, since the official blog entry includes this:

"...we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects."

Wave technology in other products? Yes, please.

Aside from the ability to synchronize and revision complex data, Wave has a second innovation going for it in federation. Wave servers can be set up and put on line by anyone, anywhere, and will communication with each other, just like email servers, or MTAs, do. In other words Google doesn't have Wave all locked down to its own hosts only. This is sure something one could never picture the likes of Microsoft doing. And its something that adds exponential value to Wave.

I hope it has a future, in some new form. I think it will.

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