How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

Summary: Wave may have been removed from active development in Google Labs today, but it's safe to say that it's far from dead.

TOPICS: Google

ZDNet's Sam Diaz, among others, mourned the death of Google Wave on Wednesday when the company announced that it would no longer be developed due to lack of interest. While this story was widely reported as one of Google's few failures. However, the mourners, naysayers, and critics are largely missing the point of a Labs group within an organization. Wave will most definitely rise again, with all signs pointing to some enterprise-class social features.

Google Labs is the home of projects Googlers want to test with a larger audience. Wave is one of the highest profile Labs projects and was released (and then revamped and more widely released) to considerable fanfare. Most of us in the technology press keep a pretty close eye on major projects that come out of Labs, After all, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, GOOG-411, Google Reader, iGoogle, Google Maps, and Google Groups all were once Labs projects.

Labs groups are popping up in many larger companies, where bureaucratic processes and rigorous structure tend to stifle innovation. Labs-like organizations are meant to be incubators for ideas where the best can mature and percolate to the top to be turned into real products for the larger company and the worst offer learning experiences and help develop new technologies. When projects succeed, you get great products like Microsoft's Ribbon Hero or Google Docs. When they don't succeed, you get Google Wave.

Yet as Google pointed out in their blog,

Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science...The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source.

Wait a minute...Drag and drop? Google just announced that attachments could now be dragged right from Gmail in Google Chrome to a Google Apps user's desktop. And drag and drop within Gmail has been supported for a while. Character-by-character live collaboration and multi-user editing? That was introduced in Google Docs not so long ago and is shown in the video below.

In contrast to a typical corporate environment, where failures can cost a company millions (or worse yet, a brand), a Labs setting values successes and failures equally. Failures, after all, are lessons learned and technologies built. Clearly, in this case, Wave has contributed directly to two of Google's core enterprise products.

Perhaps a more important question is why would Google continue to support Wave when we all know that they are deeply involved in building social technologies? Many of the capabilities in Wave are ripe for social media applications, particularly those that could add considerable value for Google's enterprise customers.

I, for one, am not mourning the death of Wave. I'm far more interested in the ways it will be reincarnated across Google's existing products and in their not-so-secret pipeline. If Wave is dead, then long live Google Wave.

Topic: Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Anyone like to explain Wave

    We got FUD, we got fanbois. What we didn't get was a clear explanation of what Wave was and how it differentiated from email and social networks.

    I still find parts of Gmail impenetrable, Buzz was as clear as mud and Wave was a mystery.

    This might explain why Wave was retired ;-)
  • Wave is not dead

    At, we've created the first and only Wave client for Outlook and our wave web app is in private beta.
  • Google wearing partners thin

    Time after time Google presents "the next big thing". Time after time ISV jumps on the hype bandwagon in the hope that being early movers will land them a competitive advantage.

    But after being burned again and again, ISVs will grow more suspicious towards new hypes.

    Floating and hyping new ideas not only incurs the cost of development and marketing. The failed hypes also takes a toll on Googles image and their ability to drum up support in the future.

    Google is using wave inside their own products, fine! How about all those software vendors who banked on Wave growing as big as Google promised?
  • Not a failure

    I don't believe Wave is a failure. I think its an idea who's time simply has not come yet. Whatever comes next, people will see Wave as its forerunner.
    • Yes, a failure

      @ITsupportGuy <br><br>In its present form it is a failure. Not a technical failure. It is merely that some advanced need some middle stations. Some advances need the community to be cultivated and become ready for them.<br><br>I agree that we need something like Wave. Google should pick it apart and start designing a standard with partners, e.g. Apple, Microsoft, IBM or Oracle. Google has some experiences from Wave to offer.
  • Wave as a Google Group?

    Group message boards, like Google Groups and Yahoo Groups, are cumbersome to read and maintain. The main problems are inline replies (copying the whole message!) and the inability to directly reply to something other than the last message. Google Wave could be spectacular as a Groups type forum. I wish Google Groups will switch over to a wave-like format.
  • RE: How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

    It's a real shame. The real-time multi-user apps supported by wave have a great future. We have a Google Wave travel-planner called "Travel WithMe", and people love the real-time experience.

    Sensing that wave might not be going places, we've put it on facebook now as well, but still with Google Wave's realtime features. It's at
  • RE: How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

    Personally, i'm sad. I liked Google Wave a lot, and in some scenarios, it was the best tool around to get the job done. I wish they integrate it into gmail as an optional "wave mode".
  • RE: How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

    nice article. this is what i love about Google: they are not afraid of failures. this encourages innovation amongst employees since innovation is majorly based on risk taking.
  • RE: How will Google Wave be reincarnated?

    I'd say Drop.Io but that was here first.