Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why Google Wave Failed

Last May, Google premiered a new way for teams to collaborate with the introduction of Google Wave. Wave was really a walker between the worlds in that it was part instant messenger, part document sharing, and part a lot of other things. Maybe Wave is ahead of its time and users just didn't 'get it', but I think that the products 'let's bring everything together' attitude greatly contributed to its ultimate downfall.

When Wave first premiered a little over a year ago, I was excited to see what new hottness Google had planned for us. I quickly signed up for the beta and set up my account within minutes of getting the invitation, expecting to be wowed. Instead, I was left shaking my head with the looming question of "So?" running through my mind.

I didn't then, and I don't now, 'get' Wave. While I'm all for service unification, Wave just felt a little schizophrenic to use and migrating my entire team from the solutions we use now for IM, wiki, file sharing, etc, seemed a bit cludgy and useless. To me, there was little payoff from Wave and, with the exception of using it a few times, largely forgot about it.

Once Wave was available to a wider audience, I once again started hearing chatter about it. But I'm sure it wasn't the kind of chatter Google wanted to hear about the product. Everywhere I turned, my fellow Wave users were asking the same question I was and facing the same deficit in payoff I faced. In the end, Wave was a cool idea, but just didn't quite hit that sweet spot that could compel users to move from their current solutions. The idea of unification alone isn't enough to bring people on-board - you have to offer them additional value and, unfortunately, Wave just didn't do that.

All that said, I don't believe we've seen the end of Google Wave. I think the idea behind it is solid and, eventually, it will catch on. I hope that Google doesn't completely kill the product but, rather, put it into the community space where the users themselves can decide what they want Wave to be. Collaboration is good. Unification is good. Google Wave is good. It just really never figured out what it wanted to be when it grew up.

And, if Google doesn't wake up, Buzz is next...