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A Rolling Wave Gathers No Users…

google wave

Well, it’s about time. Google is finally taking the initiative to shut down Wave, ending the company’s most heinous failure since… no, actually, this could be the company’s most heinous failure.

What’s wrong with Wave? In concept, nothing – an open-source environment that combines email and live chat with a practically Wikipedian vibe into one intense collaboration tool? Hell, both my roommate and I heralded Wave as the beginning of the end of traditional email. The idea is perfect.

Then, of course, the concept was executed, and the entire world it scratched its head as if to say ‘what the f*** is this?’ Simply put, Wave is poorly designed. That’s not at all a big shock for a Google product, but Wave makes you wonder whether they hire designers at all. In the software world, interface is everything, and even advanced computer users couldn’t seem to navigate Wave with any clarity. It took me months to successfully have my first Wave, and even when I did, it was absolutely awkward and difficult. And my collaborator was in the same room.

Says Google of the decision:

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.

‘Liberate’. I don’t think they could have chosen a more poignant word. Freedom from Wave.

Wave is still a good idea, and I hope we do see Wave-like products in the future. Treated properly, the Wave concept could indeed spell bad news for email.

But seriously, Google. Wave sucks. Good call.

  1. When I first heard about Google closing Wave, I felt my heart drop. I have been using it since release for many projects and I have absolutely loved it. When it comes to using Wave, there is a definite division in the haves and the have-nots. If you have no prior experience with the features of Wave you are lost from the get-go and there is no hope. The world wasn’t ready for Wave.

  2. I just use Google Docs. You can ‘share’ file with anyone and you both can edit it in real time. Delete things, add things, add images etc. All while working from thousands of miles away from each other.

  3. I personally think Google Wave is an interesting concept. However it was poorly executed, Google should have hyped the service through viral advertising and hyping. Google should’ve allowed Wave to integrate with instant messengers to attract users – of course it is more powerful than a normal instant messenger. I have a Wave account since the beginning, but no one really knew about the service so no one I personally knew was online. Lack of users was the decline in service. I think Google should relaunch the service, revamped and hyped. If the average person knew about Google wave it would’ve been better.

  4. I know the designers who worked on Wave. The problem was releasing it too real to the public. Early adopters are one thing but the cascading effect from the media didn’t help sell the UI challenges they had to overcome. Remember what beta used to mean; buggy, testing version of the software? But Google user have expectations of polished beta products like Gmail was.

    I believe if they re-launched it with the current changes to the UI, it would be better received.

  5. I don’t know why the writers of this blog feel compelled to rip on Google products. I think wave was easy to use, and very well designed. Within a couple of minutes of setting up my account, I had several waves up and running. Even my wife, who wouldn’t call herself a computer “whizz” was using it, and toying around with some of the drag n drop functionality.

    Since then, I have used Wave to work on several design projects, including my podcast, blog, and some tabletop RPG’s which had nine or ten collaborators.

    I think the adoption rate of Wave has more to do with the fact that a lot of people day to day don’t work on collab projects, and getting businesses to move to a new work method is never quick or easy. I don’t feel like the UI is what killed this project, and I’m surprised to hear that other people think so.

    Well, here’s hoping that they implement the code from Wave into Groups or something like that.

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