Google has recently announced that it is ceasing development of Wave and closing down the application by year’s end. I was a fan of Wave, even though I readily acknowledge that as an app it was a little hard to grasp but overall I thought it provided some real innovation. I do however readily acknowledge that many people, even in the tech industry didn’t ‘get it’ either.
I found it most interesting that many tech people ‘bagged’ Wave without every having used it. Even those that did really didn’t use it for anything major. In a couple of circumstances that I used it extensively I found that it did indeed have major benefits but as the collaboration conversation grew much of the information became hopelessly jumbled. At that stage the easiest thing to do was start another Wave and move some of the information there. However, that really isn’t much different from email is it now?
In some ways the failure of Wave indicates to me that technology has become such an ingrained part of society that there is now a huge reluctance to move to anything new or innovative. Sadly, there used to be a time when people would jump on new technology and really try and make it work. Now it seems to have become a case of ‘well, unless it’s really, really, really better then I’m not going to change’. Even amongst people in technology, there is a real reluctance to pioneer something new. As I said, a strong indication to me that the technology market, in all aspects, has become mature.
One of the main reasons that I became interested in Wave was the fact that it was touted as a competitor for SharePoint. In some ways SharePoint shares some of the challenges of Wave in that most people don’t have a good idea of how to use SharePoint effectively. Perhaps the fact that SharePoint supports a more structure approach to storing information and that it links better to Microsoft Office applications make it more relevant. Perhaps the fact is that SharePoint is a more mature technology that has been adopted in the enterprise for many years stand testament to the fact that it does provide solutions for businesses who want to manage their information. However I have learnt that unless you get ‘real’ people using and understanding SharePoint then it will suffer the same fate that Wave has.
Although it is sad to see Wave disappear I have no doubt that much of the technology developed there will find it way into other Google products, the most likely candidate being Gmail. I find it just as sad that the technology industry in some ways has become so staid and conservative that fails to embrace new ways of looking at old problems. In the end it shows us that ultimately technology is driven by market forces which, like it or not, you have to deal with if you are to prosper.
An interesting side note is that one of reasons for Wave’s demise is the fact that Google is working a competitor to Facebook called Google Me. Can the market really sustain two products that do ‘Facebook’? Can Google really compete with a service that already has 500 million subscribers and still growing. Interesting. Moe in an upcoming post.