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What Google could have done differently with Wave!

Posted on Monday, December 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

You remember Wave, right? That instant mail/IM thingy from Google? Yes, that one. Well it was killed some months ago and Google promised to shut it down in December. The month of December is here and I decided to check out Wave. Well, it seems Google has had a change of heart and decided to keep Wave going into 2011. Hopefully, till the Wave In A Box project under Apache becomes mature enough to import users’ waves. So long, Google Wave.

But let’s go back to the unveiling of Google Wave at Google IO in 2009. The developer crowd went wild and gave standing ovations during the product demo. There is no denying it, technologically, Wave is very impressive. But as some would put it, in the months to follow, Wave struggled to find an audience.

I signed up and used Wave as soon as I could get an invite. I sent out invites and tried to get friends and family onto Wave too, but it just didn’t catch on. After logging in once, most never returned. The biggest question always was, “This is cool, but what can I do with it?”. So gradually, I too stopped using Wave. Using Wave alone is no fun.

So now I look back and offer my opinion on 3 things I think Wave could have done differently. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but nonetheless, I think these could have made a difference.

1. Wave was ahead of its time. No, I do not mean this like it was too technologically advanced as some will have you believe. I mean, it took too long before everyone who wanted access to Wave could get it, almost a year actually. Like I said earlier, using Wave alone is no fun. I remember all the anticipation, waiting and begging for invites that followed Wave’s release. I understand the need to give people time to get used to something that new, as well as giving developers time to build cool add-ons. But maybe they could have waited till they could take in more users from the get go. This would not have solved the problem of people not knowing what to do with it though, which brings me to my second point.

2. Wave should have been integrated with Gmail. Much like Google Buzz, I believe Google would have been better served if they shoved Wave down our throats like they did with Buzz. It should not have lived in its own tab, but be integrated tightly in GMail’s messaging flow. One would then simply have the choice when composing to either send a normal email or create new Wave. This would have made the use of Wave so much more obvious to folks. Unlike Buzz which lives in its own tab and is disconnected from mail, Wave would have been part of the email experience itself. This could have take GMail to a whole new level of social.

3. Wave should have been given more time. Ok, we’ve all heard this one before, even Lars Rasmussen said it. But it’s true, only one year from total availability till shutdown for something this new was too short.

Of course, I acknowledge that it was a business decision to shut down Wave and there were probably factors considered which I do not know about. All of this shoulda/coulda/woulda does not change the fact that Google is doing some cool innovation on the web. But these are some factors that would have made a difference for me, and I believe for many others too.

What about you, what could Google have done differently with Wave?

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Bring on the comments

  1. John says:

    OMG so much. They really screwed up when they open a application and not show you all the things you can do with it. They just showed us 2 or 3 things and poof it was gone. Google dropped the ball and this excellent application

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