The Death of Google Wave

From Google’s blog today:

Update on Google Wave

We have always pursued innovative projects because we want to drive breakthroughs in computer science that dramatically improve our users’ lives. Last year at Google I/O, when we launched our developer preview of Google Wave, a web app for real time communication and collaboration, it set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser. We showed character-by-character live typing, and the ability to drag-and-drop files from the desktop, even “playback” the history of changes–all within a browser. Developers in the audience stood and cheered. Some even waved their laptops.

We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though 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: sharing images and other media in real time; improving spell-checking by understanding not just an individual word, but also the context of each word; and enabling third-party developers to build new tools like consumer gadgets for travel, or robots to check code.

But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, 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.

Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science. We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web.

I am not surprised. Google Wave never seemed to have a clear purpose. I remember excitedly waiting for an elusive beta invite, only to experience a huge letdown when I finally tried it. The communication that Wave facilitated was confused and restricted to an elite group. So much for reinventing email.

However, I am disappointed. Google put a lot of hype into Wave, then it stagnated and died. I can see the same happening to Google Buzz. It seems like Google is playing it safe – they haven’t made significant changes to many of their apps in a long time: Google Talk, Voice, and Reader are some significant examples. Gmail hasn’t broken new any ground recently. 7.4 GB of email storage? Yawn – Hotmail and Yahoo offer unlimited storage.

I get the feeling that corporate bureaucracy is starting to slow Google down and is making significant changes in flagship products more difficult.

Come on Google

2 thoughts on “The Death of Google Wave”

  1. Whiner.
    A corporate monster gives away wonderful things, and you cry its not enough.
    These things are Darwinian.
    Don’t whine cause mommy’s not giving you free candy anymore.

  2. @GaryT,
    I never found a use for Google Wave and do no miss it. The thrust of this post was to criticize Google for becoming “corporate” and stagnating. Pet projects like Wave are interesting, but I’d like their established products like Reader, Gmail, and Voice get the same sort of creative and innovative energy.

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