Why Google Wave Crashed and Burned

"It was a solution looking for a problem"

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It was only last year that Google announced its much-ballyhooed e-mail and instant messaging application Google Wave. It was hailed as a "game-changing" service that could potentially replace e-mail. Yet on Monday, the search giant announced it's scrapping the project. "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked," said Urs , a senior vice president at Google. "We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product." How come Wave failed?

  • It Was a Solution Looking for a Problem, writes Rob Diana at Regular Geek: "What problem did Wave solve? Was it collaboration? No, there are plenty of products being used around the world for that. The real-time aspect of Wave was not a solution to anything either. Seeing people typing did not help the collaboration, but real-time has all the hype so it was included. Maybe we can get some of the interesting features added into GMail and slowly grow into something bigger than email."
  • No One Could Explain It, writes tech guru John Gruber: "It’s always seemed remarkable to me that they even shipped Wave in the first place. Interesting technology? Sure. But as a product, it was almost impossible to describe. When has a new product been successful when no one knows or understands what they’re supposed to use it for? It was the most Google-y product ever — no other company would have or could have shipped it."
  • They Never Nurtured a Core Fan Base, writes David Winer at Scripting: "Moral of the story. ... Before you roll out a community-based product, use it yourself to inform a modest community of users ... that loves you and the product. ... Until you gain traction at that level, don't go any further... Even if everything is right, the net might not boot up. That's the way these things go... It took three or four launches before podcasting booted... There were lots of community blogging sites before Blogger took off. Sometimes it's just the timing."
  • Companies Couldn't Use It, writes Scott at Information Overload: "It has not seen the user adoption for one reason in my view – it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer natively, and most corporate IT departments will not let their staff download and install the Google Chrome Frame to make it do so. This is important, because I do think some tech people do tend to forget that for most of us in the corporate/business world, we don’t have a choice of browser to use – or even version of that browser to use. The larger the organization, the less likely you will be to customize IE in anyway, with IT departments/security taking control of most of your settings too."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.