Google Wave's Goodbye as another one bites the dust (updated)

Google Wave's Goodbye as another one bites the dust (updated)

Summary: The Official Google Blog has just provided an Update on Google Wave that could be roughly translated as “It’s dead, Jim”. It won’t be developed any further, the team behind Wave will move on to do something productive, and users have until the end of the year to extract their data.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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The Official Google Blog has just provided an Update on Google Wave that could be roughly translated as “It’s dead, Jim”. It won’t be developed any further, the team behind Wave will move on to do something productive, and users have until the end of the year to extract their data. Google says: “we will work on tools so that users can easily ‘liberate’ their content from Wave”.

None of which is the least bit surprising: Wave just didn’t attract enough real users.

The only surprising thing about Google Wave was the reception it got at its launch. As Google’s blog post notes: “Developers in the audience stood and cheered. Some even waved their laptops.”

There was an even bigger reaction on Twitter, where my timeline was swamped by an outpouring of Wave Mania. People were falling over themselves to sign up and show how cool they were, even though most of them had nobody to use Wave with; and even if they’d been able to use it, they had no earthly use for it. It was from Google! It was new! It was a technological miracle! It was the future, wasn’t it?

My former colleague at the Guardian, Bobbie Johnson, described it as a geekgasm.

But there’s nothing unusual about Google pushing out flops. We’ve already seen Orkut (it’s big in Brazil), Knol, Google Answers, Google Catalog, Google Lively, Google Squared, Google Viewer, Web Accelerator, Video Player, Google Health, Google Radio, Google Print Ads, the Google Directory (DMOZ) and the bought-in services Jaiku and Dodgeball. Someone less generous than I am might throw in GTalk, Google Checkout, Google Base, Google Buzz, and the awful Google Docs as well.

Do the Pundits of Silicon Valley have a collective brain-fade system that temporarily prevents them from remembering that Google keeps failing to create innovative new products or at least some decent knock-offs of other people’s successes (Facebook, Wikipedia, PayPal, Amazon, Yahoo Answers, Windows Live Messenger, Twitter, FriendFeed etc)?

They seem to assume that if the ultra-smart and very rich Google guys launch something that looks good, well, it can’t possibly be bad. Of course, the reality is that every successful corporation has enjoyed (or otherwise) at least a few flops, including IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and Google. That’s life.

I’m not asking for rational skepticism at product launches -- Silicon Valley is probably too excitable for that -- but a bit less hysteria might be nice.

twitter.com/jackschofield

Update: Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land, has posted Let’s Celebrate Google’s Biggest Failures! His list includes SearchWiki, Google Notebook, and Google Page Creator, which I'd missed.

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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9 comments
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  • Ha ha surely that constitutes as the quickest death, or maybe one of the other google gadgets holds that silent vigil title?
    CA-aba1d
  • Conceptually Wave is good but the experience of using it was not up to the promise. No doubt we'll see some of its features sneak into other Google products.

    Calling Google Docs awful is provacative to be sure, but hardly compelling; GDocs is a well-used business tool the world over and single-handedly demonstrated there is a more-than-legitimate alternative to M$ Office online. Any suggested shut-down order would, I surmise, be met by a stampede of champions.

    I take issue with your other identified misfits -- Buzz and Checkout are excellent products which have not (yet) reached mainstream adoption -- but even for those services which didn't quite capture the imagination, I respect the commitment to innovate and, yes, fail.
    dblanar
  • Fair point about the over-reaction to Google Wave in the media, but they'd learned their lesson by the time Google Buzz came around, which was pretty much panned from launch.

    The only point that really doesn't stand up in your article, however, is the description of Google Docs as 'awful'. Surely that needs qualifying! I'd definitely put that in the 'innovative success' column of Google's achievements, and while that column is certainly emptier than the failures column, that's all part of the companies 'throw loads of ideas at the wall and see what sticks' philosophy.

    When all accounts are totaled, Google's failures don't outweigh the importance of their enormous and innovative successes.
    chris.beaumont@...
  • 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 apps.facebook.com/travel-withme.
    AndrewSittermann
  • @spirit
    > I take issue with your other identified misfits -- Buzz and Checkout are excellent
    > products which have not (yet) reached mainstream adoption

    I agree, but I carefully didn't list them with the flops. I merely noted that someone less generous than me might do so. I'm sure you can find people who have ;-)

    @Chris Beaumont
    > Fair point about the over-reaction to Google Wave in the media, but they'd
    > learned their lesson by the time Google Buzz came around, which was pretty
    > much panned from launch.

    Yes, that's true. I shall consider myself shot down in flames, and hoping I packed a parachute.

    > The only point that really doesn't stand up in your article, however, is the
    > description of Google Docs as 'awful'. Surely that needs qualifying!

    That's also a fair point. It might be more accurate to say that Google Docs is truly dire if you happen to be a Microsoft Office user (which I guess 85% of us are). If you use nothing but Google Docs, it's just rather poor, but you can survive by living within its limitations. Or you could move to something better, such as Zoho.

    I tweeted a couple of Google searches in response to similar comments:
    http://twitter.com/jackschofield/status/20376685827

    @AndrewSittermann

    Many thanks for that comment: I hadn't really thought about it (or experienced it) as an apps platform. However, I couldn't see it getting enough traction for it to be a viable applications platform. I'm sure some users took to it, but how many ran away? Is there any way to tell?
    Jack Schofield
  • Google Docs 'awful'. Couldn't agree less. I haven't used MS Word in over two years [except when someone insists on sending me one, where-upon it is immediately uploaded to GDocs]. With colleagues around the world collaboration is so much easier than the constant to-and-fro of sending documents via email. In addition GDocs allows realtime editing in several locations. Completed docs may also be dowloaded in several formats including PDFs. Google Talk [Chat if you prefer] is also far better than Yahoo or MSM. The plus points is that all chat is stored and searchable in GMail account, and it is usable on any computer with a browser [no download necessary]. The MSM and Yahoo stand-alone vlients are heavy and full of ads. The GTalk client is light, never crashes, less prone to phishing attacks and has no ads. Google Checkout, only used once, but it worked! Google Health is maybe not essential but incredibly useful when travelling. It still remains despite the inference above, and tho it primarily targets US citizens, it may be used by anyone with a Google account. Buzz is not so useful. Google Calendar is excellent. And of course one forgets the popular Blogger and YouTube. Google makes mistakes, yes. But it learns by many of these failures. Most of what Google has done has transformed millions of lives. Life without Google! Possible, but perhaps not quite as easy.
    tvnewswatch
  • @tvnewswatch
    > Google Docs 'awful'. Couldn't agree less

    Well, Google Docs is just about usable if you don't mind the awful interface, and if you only want single column text, almost no choice of font, don't want to do anything creative with headlines, don't use styles, don't use equations, don't use footnotes, don't mind having fugly graphs, don't embed pictures with captions, don't want to work offline, don't want to print anything, and never need any customer support.

    Also, Google's claims of compatibility with proper Office documents are a terrible joke to play on the ignorant. One decade real soon now, Google Docs might catch up with Office 1995, but don't hold your breath.

    Meanwile, on Twitter...

    02 Aug at 07:15 AM by Amandansmith - 543 followers - Flag
    Thiiiiis. RT @Legna989: I hate Google docs so much now. It makes me sad.

    29 Jul at 07:49 PM by Ahizelm1 - 219 followers - Flag
    I hate Google Docs. The worst program ever.

    28 Jul at 11:43 PM by Evangelineh - 446 followers - Flag
    Ugh, I hate Google Docs now; why did they have to change how it's laid out? WHY MUST THEY TRY TO FIX WHAT AIN'T BROKEN??

    28 Jul at 08:22 PM by Smitha_R - 104 followers - Flag
    I hate Google Docs. It's a giant pain in the ass.

    27 Jul at 01:14 PM by Mlax1 - 19 followers - Flag
    Google Docs sucks

    26 Jul at 02:23 PM by Timbarsness - 113 followers - Flag
    @isaiah - oh man … I hate Google Docs

    20 Jul at 01:56 AM by Hahahalif - 68 followers - Flag
    I hate Google Docs.

    19 Jul at 10:01 PM by Androidbleats - 16 followers - Flag
    google docs sucks monkey balls - apparently you cant have more than one account ... are ya fucking kidding me #epicfail

    15 Jul at 01:24 PM by Ronradu - 172 followers - Flag
    I hate google docs - so frustrating

    15 Jul at 05:44 AM by Micheleaggiato - 86 followers - Flag
    @Microsoft web apps is KEWL.!! resembles as offline office, while google docs Sucks.Edit/new docx/xlxs open in new Tab/Window,Urgh!

    14 Jul at 04:53 AM by Menitin- 43 followers - Flag
    Dear Google, I love your search, Analytics and Chrome but gosh your Google Docs sucks,, big time

    14 Jul at 04:21 AM by Spo0ky - 1,109 followers - Flag
    I officially hate google docs...

    12 Jul at 04:42 PM by Femmetron - 312 followers - Flag
    @Teamsmella23 gah i'm starting to hate google docs...

    09 Jul at 05:32 PM by En_Bobchao - 40 followers - Flag
    I hate Google Docs, keeping stop me to open documents >_
    Jack Schofield
  • I don't much are for Google Docs either. But it's not really the main competition for MS Office, anyway. OpenOffice is.

    Incidentally, Jack, there's a number of MS products that have bit the dust recently too. We don't hear about them here though.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • Google Wave was an online software application formerly developed by Google. It was described as "a new web application for real-time communication and the thought is that even google gets it wrong. What will they be geeting wrong next. Visit us at http://www.airportessentials.com
    wealthplus