Did Google believe that this was going to succeed as a consumer product, à la Facebook?
Wave, as it exists today, is a great tool for corporate communications. With the right interfaces, integration, and extensions it could definitely displace Exchange and Lotus Notes. Eventually, as a protocol, it had the potential to transcend email.
Maybe Google just hoped Wave would appeal to a different market than it really does.
PS #1: I'm sure that corporate uptake of Wave in its current form was limited as well because of the absence of a reasonable client/server that you could run on your own network.
PS #2: Hopefully there are enough of us who like the protocol that, over a number of years, we can build Apache Foundation-quality F/OSS implementations of the needed components.
PS #3: It would be truly ironic if, say in 10 years time, Google finally integrated the Wave Protocol with Gmail because there had been enough private (but federated) uptake as an email replacement.
It's just a wicked solid tool for meetings and out-of-band document collaboration. I'd love to see it continue. I'm sad it didn't get the adoption they wanted, but I also wonder what they expected when they didn't even really try to integrate it with GMail.
If they could go back and time, exclude Buzz from Gmail but instead add Wave, I think they'd have better success for it.
No question. Wave should have been an alternate view of your Gmail account. Instead it was a completely distinct environment that you had to manage separately, which most people aren't going to be bothered to do.
Once a few of my friends joined in, we thought we could plan our road-trips etc. on it easily and share photos later. Even then, there were always a few who said "What's a Wave?".
I'm fairly confused about what 'success' is supposed to have meant here.
Since we use a corporate email for Analytics but personal ones for Wave it meant having to switch logins all the time. Might sound trivial but actually put me off using the product at all.
There's too much tied to my GMail account already.
I'm actually rather peeved it's going away, because (1) I don't want to waste a bunch of time trying to migrate data out of Wave, and (2) there really isn't much out there that can replace Wave in our workflow. We use Wave as a GUI-editable wiki where documents gracefully age out of view, and it's just great for that. I'm really going to miss it.
Really bummed out about this. But then again when Google "kills" something they rarely pull the plug completely.. it either stays in limbo indefinitely or evolves into something else
Aren't these two sentences contradictory? 'Wave is a great product if you changed the interface, integration points and, really, if it was a different product'. I think there's a tendency to over-analyze the reasons Wave was not a success because it got a lot of coverage and came from Google - a company with a long track record of many successes. Whatever the merits of the over-arching idea of Wave, the actual implementation and the thing you got to use, frankly, blew. An interesting technology demo, maybe but as an actual product it was a horrendous, inscrutable, clunky mess - no amount of market targeting, faster approval of beta invites and a score of other remedies that don't address the basic deficiencies of the product (e.g. largely unusable) could have saved Wave. This remains true despite the fact that there exist a few merry bands of hyper-intelligent and/or masochistic mutants who have managed to get some use out of it.
This proves, imo, that it wasn't a failure of product, but of marketing. Most people opened Wave and had no idea what to expect and no idea what to do with it, which led them to believe it was an "inscrutable mess". If I'd have shown you Wave without all the hoopla that Google used, I'd have said "here's a tool for project collaboration. Open a new topic whenever you want to talk about it, then all the team members can add/edit content and everyone can see it live, and it just works!". And I think then you would both a) understand it immediately, and b) understand whether it is of value to you.
Google set up such different expectations for it that it's no wonder people didn't "get it".
The fact that you personally found it useful doesn't, in itself, prove that it was a failure of marketing although, presumably, it proves you found it useful.
I know I didn't just look at it and close the window, completely not understanding what it was about. I understand what it is about, I just think it's bad. It has a dreadful UI and massive overlaying of concepts and features without much coherence. Just as an example, one superficial but reasonably accurate sign of clunky, ill-thought-out design is the presence of made-up terminology - wave has this in spades, what with the waves and the wavelets and the blips. These are fundamental usability problems - they can't be fixed by marketing.
I think you've just described >50% of all software.
Not sure if the pieces of wave that are open-source are enough to build a product but there is definitely a real email problem inside corporations that Wave seems to have potential to solve. Google has very limited interest in products for intranets, their focus is the wider Internet.
The point I'm trying to make to this startup community is that there's money to made solving the corporate email problem. And the second mouse gets the cheese.
I know there were some dev attempts at bridging the two, but they were so lame as to be unusable as a replacement.
I did end up using it for some personal planning, a bit of group work within our company, etc. .. but it currently is still just "one more thing to check".
So, what could appease almighty Wall Street better than this signal that Google is willing to kill a product, no matter how exciting, if it doesn't meet its bottom line?
In a way this is a really clever compromise, but taking such decisions may in fact hurt Google in the longer run by diluting its culture. Sometimes, the most promising of technologies is not economically promising in the shorter run, but who'll explain this to Wall Street?
Yes, a thousand times yes. If Google did the last 10% o the work:
* Sell a pre-packaged, serviced VM (in VMware, HyperV, and Xen formats)
* Made an Outlook plugin for wave
They would have a real 'embrace and extend' on their hands.
Sure we could spend time and effort to re-create the wheel, but if Google wants to monetize it, they will do the work for us and provide us with a product we can purchase.
Facebook spams your inbox. They make sure you know that you have an account and that people are trying to reach you (or tell the world about their cat, etc).
With wave, it's silent. There was activity on a wave I was following in January. I found out about it in March. Someone replied to something I said on July 21st. I'm only just finding out now. What kind of a communication tool is that? It's like they're selling a phone that can't ring.
The other UI and social issues were important but weren't fatal. If Google had actually notified users when they got new messages, they would have logged into wave, sent more messages and wave would have lasted longer.
Instead, messages were sent but never read, so Wave lost all the momentum it had.
I'd like to ask one of the top Googlers just what they were thinking by positioning Wave as a replacement to email, chat, and online collaboration and NOT integrating those services into Wave itself. IPv4 to IPv6, hello! No migration plan means no migration. Email support means being able to use Wave and email at the same time; not having to choose.
Still trying to wrap my head around this, but at this point I'm not sure what's worse:
a) Planning, developing, implementing, marketing, and supporting Wave as communications platform without regards to Gmail, Gchat, and Buzz or
b) Axing Wave before trying to add Gmail, Gchat, and Buzz support
Contrast this with Buzz, where they dropped it right in the middle of your inbox. Quite the opposite strategy.
I suppose the solution I favor is to ask the user if they want notifications when they sign up. Or at the very least making it very obvious how to turn on notifications if you want them.
The notification messages were also not very well thought out, it was often confusing what had changed, requiring you to log in to Wave just to read a new message that could have easily been read via email.
Ex-Googler Piaw Na has an interesting post about this: http://piaw.blogspot.com/2010/08/tips-for-noogler-engineers....
Except it hadn't replaced email, so would the better alternative been to have Wave spam your email with updates? Seems kind of hypocritical..
But before that point Wave does not deserve its own tab, and because of the lack of email notifications it's very easy to simply forget about checking Wave.
The better answer would have had settings available (defaulted to notifying) so users could choose when and how to be notified.
While it may have been able to do this if handled correctly, nobody was going to check waves recently when invites where superexclusive and you could only communicate with random strangers you found on the ars-wave, which you also found entirely by random trying to see if it could be used for anything.
Really. It was solid technology and very neat engineering, but there was no social incentive to use it.
Google does, I always receive an email notifying me of new wave messages. I think google tried to sell a productivity tool as a mainstream product, working with Wave as a CSCW ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_supported_cooperative_... ) tool has been a dream so far. Too bad , they will stop working on it.
Wave is quite different. It's designed for conversations and collaboration. In order for it to function, users need to be able to know when the other has responded quite quickly. Wave itself does nothing to ensure this.
So, Wave was useless to me to begin with and by the time it was available to everyone, I wasn't interested and neither were any of my co-workers.
I would blame the launch for the failure of this one.
It's pure conjecture of course!
I got a very early invitation, and it was pretty slow, and got worse as they added more users. They fixed that of course, but it did slow down the roll-out.
I think a lesson here for Google is that when they initially launch a product to a small number of users, they should really try to encourage the early adopters and make sure that they don't end up stranded with no other users to talk to, because those early adopters will become evangelists if they're well treated. Perhaps they should have just kept Wave quiet and then launched it a year later to everyone.
I mean, we still have to contend with a broken, nonstandard, useless scrollbar in the product.
Wave had huge potential. I can't believe Google are so short-sighted as to let it go so quickly, with so little effort.
And by the time Wave had had enough testing, they had lost all the early momentum. At some point you've got to choose where you put your effort!
a) It takes some work to create a new Google doc and set it up for sharing. Etherpad was as simple as pasting the URL.
b) Etherpad shows changes from different users with a different background color. Google Docs is invisible.
somehow i don't think they need your sympathies ... they probably got a decent amount of money from their acquisition, so they're probably not crying right now ;)
There is another way of looking at this. Let me rephrase that for you:
Isn't it nice that Google gave us all that money in order to let us try our idea a second time? Just look at all the lessons we learned in preparation for the third time. Google may even open-source all our work so we can take it with us.
Not saying they wouldn't be a bit disappointed, just that their original version changed at least once and they seem to have dealt with that ok.
1) a smallish hunk of cash
2) a thriving enterprise built around your vision for improving how people communicate
The Etherpad sellout was, and is, the most disappointing acquisition I can remember.
i dunno how much they each got in the acquisition, but i doubt it was 'smallish'. it wasn't like they sold some artwork online for $30.
We started off with a collaborative list of every cue needed during the first run through, and then let that list grow bigger and bigger with inline replys. Wave's built-in media features meant that I could paste mp3's into the space and let the filmmakers hear my work immediately, and then download the file to put into the project. This meant that when it came time to FTP the big, uncompressed files, it was only the finals, which made things a lot easier.
Likewise, collaborating with temp music was a breeze-- the filmmakers even scored a few sections of the film with temp music and then put the video right into the conversation. (No more folders full of giant quicktime files with different scores).
I know that I'm going to miss that experience. Oh well. Perhaps someone will take the open-source'd code from Google and build a better product.
I'm not holding my breath.
I am starting to feel like I will have to deal with "MY REPLY IN RED" company chain email threads from hell forever now.
I just don't get it.
But this is where there exists, not to mince words, a monumentally huge opportunity. As Google begins to open-source more of Wave, there's room for a more UX-focused team to really bring out the tech's potential.
I'm not talking a new skin or even a new home layout; I'm talking a new software product that uses the real-time collaboration system in an ingenious new way. Google solved the engineering problem; now someone needs to solve the interaction design problem.
You can even delete other people's blips!
People can only see your mistakes if they're in the wave and looking while you type (ie, "Chat Mode"). If it's used like email (that is, checking it a few times per day), they see only the snapshots of what happened when the "Done" button was pressed.
You can add pictures. You can embed YouTube videos. You can have links.
Honestly, yeah, it takes some getting used to, but once you're used to it, it's no more complicated than Outlook. Personally, I think using Outlook to set up a meeting notice is harder than using Wave.
The client always sucked and was, at the most generous, a tech demo of things the protocol/platform was capable of.
The client should have been nothing but a tech demo. The potential power of Wave was in that it could move totally arbitrary data between independently federated servers, and had support for robots that could manipulate that data in arbitrary ways.
It could have been a Facebook/Twitter/Flicker/Whatever killer, but Google got tied down with working on the bloated UI rather than building out the platform and letting others handle the frontend of it.
Aren't they afraid that the next product they announce in this fashion will be met with some scepticism from potential early adopters, who might think 'I'll wait for a bit to see if it stays', which in turn will lead to a cycle where it gets harder and harder for google to release new stuff and get it adopted?
edit: would be nice if they open sourced the code.
Sometimes disrupting existing markets and paradigms takes time, patience, and several iterations.
(I'm still disappointed at how quickly they stopped the direct-sale idea with the Nexus One)
The same thing happened with Google's 3D world product, Lively, and the following comparison of Lively with IMVU by Eric Ries is pertinent:
"By the time they [Google] actually managed to launch something, they were building the product that we had already discovered was not the right product 100 iterations ago.
"But they launched it with such high fanfare and expectations; they were so convinced they got it right, that it was actually the mismatch between the expectations that Google--one of the most public companies in the world--put behind this product, and then its pathetic results...
"The product wasn't a bad product and it's not like nobody wanted to use it (of course they wanted to use it for stuff that embarrassed Google) but it was the mismatch that really caused them to have to pull it; it was very embarrassing for them...
"Even after they launched they really didn't give it enough time to learn and iterate because they had set the wrong expectations, a classic big-company [inaudible]."
[http://venturehacks.com/articles/lean-startup -- starting at 6:35 in the audio]
"Poll: What do you think of Google Wave?"
It's amazing that Google didn't see this.
Woot! I got an invite.
Dang, none of my friends did.
Well... when can I get them one.
Forget about this. Meh. Back to email, IM, IRC and Twitter.
The overhead of using IM group chats when she was in the conversation, and Wave when it was the rest of us, was too much, so we just dumped Wave.
I really hope Buzz is next.
This is, imo, a failure to Pivot. They have a working tool that, by their own admission, has many users. Why not capitalize on this fact, and start selling the product to the people it is useful for? I'm guessing it's just because Google likes huge, spectacular products over smaller, but still quite successful alternatives.
Those who have adapted it and taken the time to really learn and use it swear by it, which strongly implies there is opportunity for it. It's not so much a product failure as a launch or marketing failure.
Pandora.com, for example, had similar problems getting initial traction, but stuck it out long enough to get over the hump (thanks in large part to iOS and Android), and are now one of the hot 'new' things.
Sometimes I think you can kill promising products too quickly in an attempt to stick with 'fail early/fail often'.
My guess is there is an up coming project (Google Me?) that shares some similarity with Wave but is targeting the friends&family group rather than workgroup. They probably will not outsource Wave as some of its tech will find its way to this upcoming project.
But Buzz is great! What don't you like about it?
EDIT: spelling fixed, thanks!
People invest time in adopting these technologies. Sure, with a little startup you take into account the fact that they might not be able to survive, but with Google you think hey, okay, let's use this thing. And you start developing your process around it. And then you get burned when it gets dropped with "Oh well we lost interest, okay we love you, bye bye!".
So today, my guys would have been better off sticking with their lousy wiki that having switched to Wave (despite the fact that they liked it and felt it increased their productivity - personally, I never warmed up to it).
Fool me once...
Google just lost all credibility with me as an early adopter. From now on, I'll wait 2 years before I start supporting a new Google product, since they apparently have no staying power.
They didn't give me the option to pay for it to keep it though, did they.
It's not the case that google (or any other tech company out there) gains nothing by "letting people use things for free". They gain the possibility of creating/cornering a niche, they get a bunch of advocates that help them spread their brand (see swombat's comment), they get an army of unpaid beta-testers, they can sell market dominance to their advertisers, etc etc.
But, if they keep releasing and dropping products, they will lose those things. That is their call, and they are free to make it - I just wanted to point out one consequence.
The plus side for the HN populace is that people like me are more than happy to pay a specialist shop for the chance that it will stick around and develop its product. This is why my photos are on smugmug and not picassa, why my notes are in evernote and not google notebook (another release-and-drop product), why my to-do list is in toodledo and not google tasks, etc etc.
Frankly if Google went poof tomorrow, the only thing I would really cry over would be google reader. I am actually very sad it has come to this.
What I did really like was the work they'd done on change-set propagation. Don't have a link to the session on hand, but it was quite interesting.
It was the anti-suckless - overengineered, XML and web-based, anti-privacy, pampering users instead of educating them (e.g. in a corporate environment, using a VCS together with IRC is a much better way to exchange information). I would've expected at least one contrary voice somewhere :)
I say good riddance.
"What's a Wave?" - should be answerable in a couple of sentences, I don't think it ever achieved that level of refinement before being put out into the world.
Even though the basic idea was great, performance of the software in-browser has never been that great, server performance was problematic, especially when waves became too long, no export option of collaborate waves to documents, no real integration with email. Plus it was hard to organize waves. After it went pseudo-public nothing really new happened to it and old weird problems like the funky scrollbar were never addressed.
That being said, I've used it on a number of projects, a couple quite big six-month ordeals, and found it an amazing collaborative environment if you disciplined your team a bit and organized things well at the start of the project.
The concept, combining several, different, modes of communication in one environment is pretty sound actually, I just think that the modes were combined a little too singularly. Certain things like real-time chat and document collaboration are fundamentally different things that should have been relegated to different parts of the interface rather than jammed into one place.
"But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked." Duh, the rollout was rather botched and given what I think I've detailed it's no wonder.
"What is Wave" should have been "a document collaboration tool with real-time side-channel chat and group email" would have been better for the use-cases my group fell into.
What I was really excited about, and what never seemed to materialize in terms of a release from Google, was that ability to run my own Wave server and federate with other Wave servers. That's what I wanted, and what never happened.
I found it really useful for collaborating with multiple parties. It allowed us to work on a document and keep the conversation all in one place yet clearly separated. Sometimes email can make that distinction difficult or unclear.
At least it's not entirely closed source. :)
I think Wave idea is awesome, but their implementation (and performance) has been always an issue. My communication is already fragmented over so many places I don't want another domain for another form of communication. They should have added wave into Gmail by default. Wave always had horrible performance issues (still does).
Buzz doesn't solve any communication problem that I can't use it on any other popular services. So Buzz adoption doesn't make sense to me whether its integrated to Gmail or not.
Buzz is a "me too" product. Wave was not.
Anyone who's ever dealt with the horror of a multi-user email thread (>>>>>This sort of thing, or perhaps "My_Doc_CASEY'sVERSION.doc")knows that Wave at least solves that problem fairly well.
Of course, no one really cares about that if you can't get your whole team onto Wave in the first place.
P.S. Re: hard vs. easy problems: Wave tackled some hard challenges in the implementation space, which I think may have led the engineers into thinking they were building something innovative and worthwhile. However, the important bit is whether or not you've actually solved anything in the problem space.
When I played around with the beta my brother and I agreed that it was too slow to be useful. That was the last time I touched it.
This was mostly because I was working in a company where getting people to document was enough of a difficulty without introducing new software. If I'd worked somewhere with a bunch of early-adopters, it would have been a fantastic tool.
On the other hand, Wave seems like a tool that almost replicates all of the benefits of being in the same room as someone. I don't think there's a better way to do a distributed workplace. (Of course, I haven't tried.)
Slow? I can only assume people who said this weren't using the latest FF or Chrome. I've never considered Wave slow at all.
It was a catch-22. You needed people to collaborate with for it to catch on, but you needed to wait a long time to invite people.
I find this quite disappointing. Wave as a concept -- and apparently its underlying implementation -- is brilliant. It pretty much exactly fixes a number of significant barriers I've repeatedly, persistently encountered in professional, collaborative communication.
However, in a fashion that's becoming all too typical for Google, the user interface was spartan and disjointed to the point of outright sucking for anyone who was not an "uebergeek" already at least passingly familiar with the paradigms they were using.
Just like with their Android Nexus phone: They didn't need to improve the technology further as much as they needed to make it usable for the common user. In the phone's case, that meant real customer support. In Wave's case, that meant a meaningful, obvious user interface and much less spartan documentation, including non-linear textual references and not just so many overcute, time-consuming, and shared-environment-adverse videos many of which were broken into frustratingly small snippets. The videos did, I suppose, demonstrate the dynamic interface better than a bunch of text and static pictures might, but then this was in significant part the fault of the interface that gave no visual indicators of what to click or drag, much less what doing so would accomplish.
Google really should give Wave more time, and devote a small cadre of staff to fixing the UI, and another small cadre of staff to some coherent, consistent promotion and public training/documentation. Once people grasp what it can do and how to do it in a quick, intuitive fashion, I argue they would have users aplenty. They've already added it as a beta feature to their Google Apps online office software suite. That crowd is ripe for adoption, if adoption is made straightforward.
When you have few million user base ready to consume whatever you advertise on gmail or search - you are trying to buy out of old rewards. Worse users are non-forgiving and expectations are much high.
So it sounds like a big company problem. But it really isn't. Yahoo does it really well with yahoo answers. There is even today a high response rate from yahoo team through "Ask Mike"
Google should probably consider small teams within. Provide all the support through tech and hardware but let the teams launch these products on their own and grow the userbase naturally focusing on service too along with the product.
it's also cool (for someone) that it looks like a desktop app, but is it needed?
it's maybe cool that i have all my contacts from gmail there, but do i need this? i mean i don't even get why would i think of my gmail as a social network, it's my inbox, and it's fine for what it does.
I mean its hard not to appreciate people trying to innovate, but it actually has to solve some sort of problem.. or maybe it's just me not getting the concept (however it's still so much more interesting than all these buzz, rule.fm etc)
"What problems does Google Wave solve?"
Wave solved many problems. Google are idiots to axe it after barely a year and a half.
Seems to me that not a single person I knew actually wanted to use it, or thought it filled a niche they needed filling.
Now I'll have to move all of that state somewhere else.
I applaud Google for their willingness to stop investing precious development resources in something that looked like the next big thing but turned out to be a great product without consumer approval.
There were some good things about it, and Hopefully we will now see some real contenders rise up to tackle the Future of Communication(tm).
Preferrably not from Google. Sorry.
We've got a wave going with about 14 people planning our trips to Ruby Kaigi in a few weeks. It's working really well and has definitely provided value that would be tricky to find elsewhere.
Could Wave have worked better if it targeted a vertical? Or is that not how Google does things?
If I want to 'connect' with friends, I have Facebook, and if I want to im work colleagues, I have Yahoo and MSN.
For document collaboration I have email for non-realtime, Google Docs for near and actual real-time.
I have a hard time seeing where my workflow needs any more collaboration tools.
google provided limited accounts and google wave requests was being sold, so the hype got created.
overcommit and underdelivery, 2009 was not 2004, gmail style launch for wave was the first nail in the coffin
though you have your account, your friends dont, you were waiting alone, it was not the realtime communications I expected. what do I do, leave google wave, this has happened with so many people whom I know.
Get the RPGers on board, perhaps, and you can succeed.
They even let you decide how often you want to get emailed. I chose once/day, but you could go all the way up to one email for every blip updated/added.
And this way works with all email, not just gmail!
There's a link in that email to send you straight to what's updated. How much integration do you want, exactly?
Really, all of Wave can be summarized by the fact that, at its launch, Wave deliberately refused to participate in any existing communications medium other than Wave. This meant that everyone you cared about had to get on Wave. Since that couldn't possibly happen, Wave was doomed from the start. Nothing about today's announcement is remotely a surprise to me.
Hard to edit your preferences, hard to get other people into it, hard to get reminders set up. If they could relaunch and make all those things better, Wave would be stellar. I almost wish they'd break backwards compatibility for people who loved the interface because it just went in the wrong direction.
The technology might be great but the launch and execution were really, really weird.
Well, they did originally have "who's online" functionality, but they had to yank it when someone found an exploit, and it took them forever to get it working again.
The "email me" option was much later - around the time they went from "Preview" to "Beta", I think. And as thorax said in his reply to me, Google flubbed the UI/usability of the preferences.
As far as "who has a Wave account", it's the same scheme as email. You get a Wave address; you're responsible for letting all your friends know what your address is (e.g., mine's in my HN profile). Probably could've been improved by hooking into Facebook/Twitter/etc. and spamming out your Wave address to all your friends...
It's going to be annoying having to go back to IRC.
whatever the reason, kind of sad anyways.
Perhaps Google is coming out with WaveDocs (wave integrated google docs) soon?
the time is right for a New Wave startup
In fact, I'm kind of surprised that they're killing it, because it felt like a first step with the technology part, with an upcoming second step where they would use said technology. I'm surprised that that was it. I would have expected Google to have plans beyond what Wave is today.