What collapsed the wave (Google Wave)?

Google has turned its back on Wave, the communication Web app that debuted with much fanfare in 2009. Developers seemed to like what they saw when Google first rolled it out, but since then, adoption has been sub-par, according to the company. Parts of Wave’s system, however, will likely be worked into future Google products, including some meant to target Facebook.
Google has other projects in the social area, including the rumored Google Games and Google Me sevices. It’s not yet clear whether the Internet search giant has other social projects underway.
These all seem to be aimed at tackling Facebook, which Google is now apparently targeting. Google has invested in Zynga, which will form the cornerstone of Google Games.
Why do you think Google Wave failed and what does Google need to do to challenge Facebook in Social Networking area? Or Facebook has gone too far to be chased?


  • Ali, I was a big fan of Google Wave conceptually. And as a Firefly fan, I loved the name.
    Unfortunately, I found it too difficult to navigate or to find desired content. And even when I did find such content, it was so popular that it was impossible for me to follow due to lag. I would imagine it required considerable bandwidth and/or server resources. I wonder if perhaps they needed to be even more restrictive with the invites they did offer, because while I wanted to like it a great deal, the performance just wasn’t there for me.
    In short: people often didn’t know what to do with it, found it hard to navigate and it was difficult to interact with the good content.

  • When something is difficult to use, it will simply not be used by the general public…

  • Tools for businesses, developed by techies.
    Lack of patience from Google.
    Too many new products introduced too quickly
    Annoying the affiliate marketing marketplace, and other social sites so that they were not willing to promote googles products.
    Search is still dominated by Google, but a large part of the promotion marketplace is voting with its feet.

  • Google Wave had a great potential if the users used it as intended. A few users sharing and/or working on a product/project
    The majority of users jumped on it and mistaken it for a social media app and created huge groups of people that participated of followed a single thread. And then the app got unresponsive and unusable and people lost interest in it.
    If I would have to work on a project that spanned across multiple geographic areas and included max. 10 people – then Google Wave would be unbeatable.

  • It had no obviously compelling value.
    Same with Buzz.

  • Personally I thought it had potential, but one thing I felt it was lacking that would have increase the popularity is the ability to do desktop sharing. For those things that needed to be collaborated on that was not supported by the Wave, desktop sharing would have been the solution.

  • It wasn’t as user friendly as Facebook and didn’t make you want to use it.

  • I remember it being billed as
    “if email had been invented now”
    Trouble is I only knew 2/3 other people who got into the testing as well so after a few days of playing with it I was bord, didn’t have much to say to the other 2 people.
    So for me it was a great tool but needed to have a bigger reach.

  • Google’s short attention span in the social media space. Remember Jaiku.

  • I don’t think it was intended as another social media tool. It was intended as a collaboration tool. But when people don’t understand the practical limitations and intent of a tool, they eventually quit using it.

  • The wave is much more than an email platforme and much less than a groupware application with all the whistles that it comes with.
    I think people did not know why to use it and how. In addition, it was not integrated with other tools so people have to keep opening the wave browser in order to keep up with it.

  • I tested out Google Wave. I think it has superb potential. One area it can improve communications is in collaborative multi-partner projects. It would offer a far better means to communicate than traditional email.
    I think people who tried out Google Wave may not have used with the system for the purpose it was designed for. If you use it as a normal email then it creates little value. But when you realise the importance of collaborative business and projects then you can start to use it in different and new ways.
    I think Google should see the Google Wave project through.
    Kind regards,

  • In my opinion Google Wave didn’t fail so much as it was abandoned because it wasn’t fully formed, and Google has other fish to fry. Conceptually you can see why Google or anyone would want to carry real time conversations across mixed groups and do clever things with aggregation and sharing etc.
    The big problem for me when I tried to use it was that it wasn’t apparent what it was actually for, there was nothing saying “get started here” like you get with other Google products (Picasa, for example) and there was no content and no contacts to interact with.
    You signed up purely because you could sign up, then had nothing to do with it. Usually, Google has success with things where it has content to interact with. On Street View people could instantly play with it, with search you get instant results, with Picasa you can see straight away what you are supposed to do etc. With Wave, there was nothing obvious, intuitive or even meaningful that said, in a nutshell, what it was for.
    I think the idea will resurface, but in a different form and perhaps embedded into other Google projects in various ways.
    PS: I am with Frank Feather on Buzz. I can’t see the point of that either.

  • It never got to the point of benefiting from the “Network Effect,” which I think falls from the fact that it was essentially independent from Google’s other services.
    A telephone isn’t very valuable if there are only three phones in town; it wildly expands in value when *everyone* is connected to a phone.
    Email has the same quality; people didn’t think it was very valuable back when it was only usable by university students at certain universities and by researchers at those schools. When everyone’s got email, the value is rather more obvious.
    It took many years for email networks to expand to ubiquity, and Google Wave was not offered as much as a year to get the “Network Effect,” so the failure shouldn’t be too terribly surprising. Had Google come up with a way to (for instance) turn GMail conversations automatically into Wave documents, then they might have fed a network effect, but clearly they didn’t do so.
    What Google needs to do in order to challenge Facebook is to come up with transactions that *do* have a Network Effect, that, simultaneously, are of some value to the already-existing users of their services.
    On the technical side, the emerging of more uses of Google’s OAuth and OpenID systems are a meaningful piece of support to tie “other stuff” to one’s “Google ID”, and that’s an important piece of the puzzle. While useful, that’s obviously hardly “sexy.”
    Google needs to capture some human activities that require collaboration that can use these pieces. Wave obviously wasn’t a stellar example of this.
    FarmVille is such an activity, as puerile as it may be. If Google Games comes up with something addictive, then they’ll be onto something.

  • Two things:
    1 – wave is too much new, advanced, different from email for the normal user
    2 – the initial account distibution closed to only invited people. In thi way they don’t reach rapidly a critical numer of users.

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