For all the hype and technology press proclamations that it would kill off e-mail, IM, Twitter and everything else that anything new is supposed to destroy, Google announced today that the company is shutting down Google Wave.
Launched almost a year ago, Wave was a new kind of Internet communication that could be viewed in different ways.
It was real-time e-mail, where users could watch someone typing a letter to them live. Or it was a really advanced chat room client where images and other files could be shown live to anyone in the chat. Or, if enough people joined a single “wave,” it was like Twitter with the aforementioned features.
This confusion over what exactly Google Wave was for may have contributed to the company’s shuttering of the app.
In an official blog post, Google Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Hölzle wrote that despite many loyal users, “Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.”
As a result, development on Wave will not continue, though the service will still be active until the end of the year.
However, Hölzle also wrote that the team will work on tools for users to “liberate” the content they’ve already placed in Wave.
There was a massive amount of hype generated when the service was announced at Google I/O last year. The hype was compounded when Wave launched a private beta, requiring invites from other Wave users in order to try the app.
This led to a rush for beta invites that hadn’t been seen since Google launched a private beta of Gmail in 2004.
I too found myself caught up in the hype, panhandling across the Internet for an invite. I still remember my excitement when an invite finally landed in my inbox.
That said, the excitement didn’t last long.
Once I registered for Wave and was presented with the interface I pretty much stared at it and said, “Now what?”
Wave was built as a collaborative communications system which wasn’t particularly useful when no one else I knew could use it.
It was two weeks before I could send out my own invites and by then, everybody had one but the hype had mostly died down.
Within two months, I hardly saw the service mentioned anywhere.
Google Wave certainly was a neat idea and quite innovative. Unfortunately, like many other innovative products, it was a solution to a problem not many people had.
Oh, and if you are looking for a possible replacement for Wave, check out PyGoWave, an open-source alternative to Wave.