Goodbye, Google Wave: a hard software sell (and placeholder risk)

By Richi Jennings. August 5, 2010.

Google has waved goodbye to Wave, its all-in-one collaboration tool. It turns out that few people were using it -- what a shocker. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wave goodbye (so insecure, you see).

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment (with apologies to Marc Almond and David Ball). Not to mention the dangers of pre-release placeholders...

Here's Joab Jackson, standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo:

Google ... will maintain the service through the end of the year, and the technology will be rolled into other Google projects. ... Some features are already available as open-source components.
The decision seems to have been made rather speedily. ... [On] Monday, the company posted information about upcoming Wave developer talks. ... Last month ... Google Wave developer Dan Peterson admitted ... that early versions of the service were slow and tended to crash.

And there's Jemima Kiss, crying in the rain:

Wave, the cross-platform communication tool it launched with much fanfare at its I/O developer conference in May 2009. ... You've probably heard of it but not actually tried it, which sums up the problem. ... Perhaps the difficulty in describing its function was its biggest dowfnall.
File this under ideas that were just a little ahead of their time. ... Wave was one stab at tackling our information overload, at providing a central hub for all the information we need to deal with. ... It will be back, in one form or another.

Between Wave and Glenn Fleishman, it was a kind of so-so love (and he's gonna make sure it never happens again):

The somewhat incomprehensible Web app from Google that allowed live collaborative editing and commenting ... had a steep learning curve. ... No one [was] able to figure out what, if anything, it's good at. ...  It was a mishmash of too many separate elements crammed into one bulging interface. Was Wave email? Not quite. ... Was it an annotation system used to mark up documents? Yes, but in an odd way. ... Was it a wiki or a simultaneous editor? Yes and no.
We made a valiant effort to use it as a tool for various projects that had many pieces to track and many participants. ... It never gelled. ... A tool we adored and used constantly ... was EtherPad. ... Google purchased AppJet, the firm that developed EtherPad. ... From the ashes of EtherPad (and Google Wave) ... rose the phoenix of live editing in Google Docs. Wave's loss is Docs' win.

Dave Winer tried to make it work (but it just wasn't him):

Moral of the story. ... Before you roll out a community-based product, use it yourself to inform a modest community of users ... that loves you and the product. ... Until you gain traction at that level, don't go any further.
Even if everything is right, the net might not boot up. That's way these things go. ... It could the time isn't right. It took three or four launches before podcasting booted. ... There were lots of community blogging sites before Blogger took off.

Google's Urs Hölzle put up with all the scenes, but this is one scene
that's not going to be played his way:

We weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication. The use cases we’ve seen show the power of this technology ... [but] Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. ... We will maintain the site at least through the end of the year.
Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries. ... We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue ... to advance technology and the wider web.

Meanwhile, Dan Frommer seems to say, hey little Google you will always make up, so take off that unbecoming frown:

Give Google credit for quickly and soundly getting rid of them when it's clear they don't work. ... Flops happen. ... Worse is when companies keep them around for too long, endlessly trying to justify pet projects or bad ideas.
Part of the point of being a huge tech company like Google is being able to make big, risky bets -- most of which will fail, but some of which could eventually pay off huge. ... by showing it's smart enough to swallow its pride and get rid of bad ideas ... Google is showing us it's probably smart enough to come up with some really successful ideas, too.

And Finally...
The dangers of pre-release placeholders
Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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