I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here it is. Google has announced they have stopped development on Google Wave and will only maintain the servers through the end of the year. What? You don't know what Google Wave is? Well, therein lies the problem. For those who don't know, and I will assume that is everyone reading this, Google Wave was billed as "the future of communication."
It was designed to be somewhere between the most complex instant messenger on the planet and the simplest collaboration software ever. Unfortunately, it never seemed to gain much ground as either. Wave had its share of problems and one of these, or possibly a combination of several, seems to have ended "the future of communication" here in the present.
Find out what killed Google Wave after the break.
Google's first problem is one that in inherent in the Google mindset - release it early and people will use it while we fix the bugs. It worked for Gmail because it was an email account that gave you a gig of space. No one had ever done that before, at least not publicly. You could deal with a little clumsy and buggy interface if you were going to go from the 25MB that Hotmail gave you to the 1GB Gmail was offering. This idea has not, however, worked out well for Google's other projects. If you need a good example, try Google Buzz on for size.
Secondly, we had the opportunity to play the invite game again and again, a Gmail concept didn't work in the real world. Why did limited invites with Gmail work? Because it was email. Everyone has email and it is universal. Just because I get an invite to Gmail and you don't doesn't mean we cannot talk. However, with Google Wave, that is exactly what it meant. Imagine how popular AIM, Yahoo! Messenger or Live Messenger would be today if you had to be invited to use it instead of just signing up for an account.
After I got my invite to Wave and finished the registration process, I felt like I had walked into an abandoned warehouse. There is so much potential in this space yet nothing I can do because I knew no one else with Wave. So, I started inviting people (after I finally got my invites) and then there were 4 of us. With only 4 people there was very little bonus to this service that wasn't available already in Google Talk, so we switched back and never signed back in. I would imagine this was the fate of many of their "users."
The third stumbling block for Wave was the "what is Wave" that we heard all over the Internet. Though Google tried in Google fashion to produce videos and tutorials, still no one quite understood what Wave was supposed to be or had the capabilities to be. It is hard to get users to use a service they don't understand.
What do you guys think? Had you ever used Google Wave? Were you a fan? Did you give up on it like we did? Let us know in the comments.