Google suspends Wave development

Google has retired its HTML 5-based messaging and collaboration service, which never caught on as a way to reinvent email
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor on

Google is retiring its Wave messaging and collaboration service due to poor user take-up, but will maintain the site at least until the end of 2010.

Wave, announced at Google's I/O Conference in May 2009, is an XML-based communication platform that fuses real-time messaging, editable and concurrent conversations, media sharing and standard email into one package.

Developed by the team behind Google Maps, Wave was launched on the same day as Microsoft's Bing search engine. At launch, it was greeted with huge enthusiasm and quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.

Despite all the initial buzz and media traffic, Wave never saw "the user adoption we would have liked", and is being retired, wrote Urs Holzle, senior vice president of operations and a Google Fellow, writing on Google's official blog.

Wave will no longer be developed as a stand-alone product, but "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" have been made available as open source, Holzle said.

Even as late as June 2010, Google was continuing to invest time and resources into Wave, with a post on the Google Wave blog highlighting the work done by the developers on expanding the platform and integrating it with other services, such as Salesforce and Oracle.

"Invariably the success of a platform is down to the ability to build a developer community. But you don't just need developers, you also need users. Clearly, Google struggled to attract that critical mass of users to the platform," James Governor, principal analyst and a founder of developer analysis firm RedMonk, told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

"Is this the end of Google's collaboration play? Clearly not. Vic Gundotra [Google's vice president of engineering] is being given the ability to go after Facebook — Google is refocusing its efforts. It's a bit like the UK coalition at the moment: less overlap, fewer quangos and more central strategy," said Governor.

Wave is by no means the first Google product to fall by the wayside: there have been many others, such as Google Squared, Google Health and Orkut. Orkut is still developed in Brazil, specifically for the South American market.

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