Google is scrapping its Wave collaborative messaging service citing a lack of user interest. Google’s senior vice president of operations, Urs Hölzle commented:
The idea behind the service, which allowed users to see each other typing in real time and to work on documents together, was to recreate email as if it had been invented for the way we work now, rather than 20 years ago.
Google said that the as the central parts of the code were open source, its customers and partners were free to continue to develop the platform. For companies that have deployed Wave servers in their organisation and wish to jump ship, Google said it would provide software tools that would enable them to ‘liberate’ their content from Wave.
Underlying the system was the Jabber XMPP protocol and Operational Transform, a protocol for exchanging communication updates between Wave servers, allowing these servers to federate together. The ambitious project hit problems early on with performance and usability and although Google’s developers resolved many of those issues, Wave still had a steep learning curve. Simultaneous changes in the same conversations made Waves with large numbers of users hard to follow and quickly lead to confusion. Users who adapted, usually by restricting participants in a conversation to a small group, found Wave to be a useful collaborative tool.
We remember when Google Wave was first launched, and would have beaten our grannies for a speedy invite into the service. That said, once invited there was little to do but play around with the awesome web-widgets and talk to your mates. Fun and all, and the ability to drag, drop and access certain features (such as sending directions to a mate via zoomable Google Map) certainly was handy, but not enough to draw the masses Google needed to warrant further updates.
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that the failure of Google Wave is just the failure of an experiment. “Remember, we celebrate our failures. This is a company where it’s absolutely OK to try something that’s very hard, have it not be successful, and take the learning from that,” he stated to journalists. Wave joins Google Health, Google Dodgeball, Google Notebook and Google Lively amongst Google’s tried-and-failed list but hardly compares to Google’s successes.
Google will continue to support Wave until the end of the year and will enable current Wave users to migrate their projects to other platforms, to prevent content loss. At the end of the day, it just didn’t compare to the way subscribers access USENET newsgroups.