No, it's not Wave. We'll see Wave evolve and find its way into more schools and businesses who are already using Google Apps, but the real focus for the Apps team in 2010 will be improving their Docs/Spreadsheets/Presentation offerings.
I talked at length with Google's Jeff Keltner and Gabe Cohen (a project manager for Google Apps) last Friday about where they are headed with Apps in general and Edu Apps in particular. We also discussed what he perceived as their competitive advantage over Microsoft, whose Live@Edu services are increasingly compelling.
Not surprisingly, they feel like they have a pretty good handle on messaging and calendaring. No kidding, right? There aren't many users who feel like they want to go back to another product when they've adopted GMail. In addition, Google has been able to collect considerable amounts of data on the way users interact with Apps, both automatically and via direct feedback. This is certainly driving their efforts to improve the formatting and layout capabilities with the Docs/Spreadsheets applications.
While Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentations all work well from a collaborative point of view, so-called document fidelity that Microsoft touts in their Live Web Apps is often lacking, requiring users to manipulate HTML and CSS (or, more likely, just jump into Word or OpenOffice) for serious formatting. By the end of 2010, I think we should expect to see some really drastic improvements in this area, many of which will be based around implementations of HTML 5.
As Jeff pointed out, Google's focus has not ever been duplicating Word or OpenOffice online, but satisfying user needs. They've largely satisfied the needs for a collaborative tool, but now users expect far more exact formatting, even in online offerings. That being said, Google will also be improving their collaborative tools and fully unifying the user interface.
The last area of focus will be particularly welcome for schools looking to implement Apps: granular user policies. This will be part of their efforts to improve the administrative toolkit built into Apps, but means that, for example, we should be able to eliminate chat for students but enable it for teachers in the same domain (right now, this requires multiple domains, and is an area where Microsoft's integration with Active Directory shines).
I'll be writing more about our talk this week, but suffice to say that current and prospective users of Apps have a lot to look forward to in 2010.