Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Crash of Google Wave: The Search-Engine Giant Beaches Its Innovative Collaboration Engine

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Crash of Google Wave: The Search-Engine Giant Beaches Its Innovative Collaboration Engine

Article excerpt

When Google announced the shutdown of its Google Wave product in August, no one saw it coming. A highly innovative online-collaboration application, Wave allowed users to share richly formatted text, images, videos, maps--all in real time. Participants could be added and conversations replayed to keep everyone in the loop not just on projects and plans, but on updates, changes, and edits as well.

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Subah Rama, senior analyst ofenterprise communications at ABI Research, says she was "disappointed" by the news. Rama had predicted Wave might have the same impact on collaboration that the free Gmail offering had on the email market after Google launched that service in 2004 and made it generally available in 2007.

"When I saw [Wave] launch last year," Rama says, "I thought it would definitely redefine the way people collaborate." Google, she adds, gave no advance indication that Wave was about to be pulled. In Google's official blogpost announcing the move, the only explanation given was that "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked."

Still, the product managed to inspire some pie-in-the-sky possibilities--and those may outlive Wave itself. Rama and other analysts spoke of the influence Google Wave would have had on collaborative software. Many had hoped that Google would eventually develop a productized Wave for enterprise integration.

"The effects of Google Wave would have impacted the industry in a very positive way because I know there are a lot of small companies that are working on a cloud-based collaborative platform," Rama says. "If a big company like Google succeeds, it could [have expanded] the opportunity out there."

Rama says she's a strong believer in the cloud, but that the model needs to accommodate a wide range of applications. "Customers need greater choices," she notes. "Google has been a very strong proponent of this model.... [There had been] so much hype, hope--and a very broad audience--that [Wave] getting pulled ... kind of raises some questions on the cloud-development model." Peter Yared, founder and chief executive officer of Transpond, a company that provides infrastructure for social and mobile applications, has a different view of what Wave's crash might signify: the end of collaborative software itself. "The collaboration solution is becoming very out of date," Yared says. "[Collaboration software] never gets used the way it's intended to be used because every project is being managed by email. …

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