In a surprise move, Google announced it plans to shut down Google Wave at the end of this year. Google Wave combines character-by-character live typing with saved messages to create an instant-messaging-meets-email technology great for distance collaboration. Wave is more conversational than Google Docs and allows for dragging and dropping images and video into the text. Much of Wave’s code will continue to be open source and available for incorporation into other applications.
I am honestly surprised that Google has given up on Wave so quickly. Wave adoption has been slow but that is common with new technology. Google search and Twitter took several years to go viral. If Google has an idea for a bigger, better application, I would have expected the company to continue promoting Wave until the new app was ready for release. More likely Google’s expectations for Wave were too ambitious. Google did not do a stellar job marketing Wave and what Wave can do because Google didn’t understand itself how Wave would fit into our lives. Google relied too much on third-party developers to create add-ons that would make Wave an “I can’t live without it” tool. Remember how Google released Wave to developers before anyone else last year, encouraging them to create add-ons? When the Wave “killer apps” didn’t materialize, Google realized it still didn’t know how to position Wave in the market.