Google decided last week to give up on Wave as a separate application and integrate some of it into other applications. According to the official Google Blog, Wave was just not attracting enough users to make it viable to continue. A lot has been written on its demise and why it wasn’t successful. Although it wasn’t successful I don’t think it was a failure. I think a lot of what Google learned from wave will show up on in other Google products, like Google docs and Google apps. Too be honest that was where it probably belonged in the first place. People who loved it and used it said it was a great way for a small group to collaborate.
Unfortunately, Google didn’t sell it as a collaboration tool, they sold it as a communication tool, that you could just jump in and use. They made the cardinal mistake of thinking people would learn how to use it by simply using it. Its sort of like giving someone building materials a blueprint and say here build a house. If you are lucky you may get a house, but more likely you will end up with a frustrated person and a pile of wood. That’s what happen to a lot of people with Google Wave, they were thrown into an application they didn’t understand and often with people they didn’t know. After trying it once or maybe twice they gave up and never went back.
Google is a great company with a lot of great engineers, but that is also their weakness. Engineers think in a certain way, and they don’t understand when someone doesn’t get something that to them is so clear. They saw an internal problem, email out of control and the inability to collaborate easily. They created a solution that worked well internally and just assumed it would work the same externally. Wave should have been tested outside of Google by a small group of people who were not engineers or computer programmers. They could have pointed out a lot of Wave’s flaws, offered ways to improve it. Many times those outside a project can see problems, that those inside a project miss. Hopefully, Google has learned from this experience and will handle the release of their next project better.