Google Wave was introduced in 2009 as the next generation of project management and communication. Allowing Google users to share and collaborate with their contacts in exciting new ways, Wave premiered amid nearly unrivaled buzz about how it would change both the business world and the Internet forever. A year later, however, Google announced that it was no longer continuing the development of Google Wave and that it would soon be releasing tools with which users could extract their collaborations from the service. While Wave was not the first failed project from the search engine giant, seeing Google Wave discontinued came as a greater shock to many because it had been introduced with such fanfare.
Google Wave’s Purpose
Google Wave was intended to combine the best features of chat, social networking, email, and collaboration into a cutting-edge web environment that could be accessed from any Google Wave client. Documents and workspaces could be edited by any involved party in real time, and Wave’s open API had many hoping that independent developers would continue adding features in much the same way that developers have expanded the functionality of programs such as Firefox. The Google Wave development team sought to push the limits of HTML 5 and create an online environment unlike any that had been seen before. Some were even describing Google Wave as being a first look at "Web 3.0" since it was such a departure from previous Internet-based platforms.
On August 4, 2010, Google announced that Google Wave development had been discontinued due to a low adoption rate by users. With Google Wave discontinued, they stated that tools would be released in the near future which would allow users to extract their conversations and projects from Wave’s web platform so that they could save their work on their own home computers. The public version of Google Wave will remain online for users to access through the end of 2010, and Google has stated that they will maintain the core engine of Wave for use in other projects. Many of the popular features are also available as open source code for users to incorporate into their own software projects.
Where Did Wave Go Wrong?
When Google announced Google Wave’s discontinued development, they cited that it had not seen the adoption rate that they would have liked. Many users found Wave difficult to use and navigate, with several of its features being unintuitive or not immediately accessible. A number of users remarked that they had simply forgotten about some of the features that they had trouble using or finding, and their interest rapidly dwindled due to not being able to fully make use of the program. Other problems included lag when using Internet Explorer (since Wave required a special IE plugin) and the general lack of Opera support. Overall, the majority of Wave users found it to be an interesting experiment but nothing that they would use on a regular basis.
Image Credit: Screenshot by J. Edward Casteele