Google Wave, one of the company’s most ambitious and certainly one of its most hyped products, is now dead. Google has stopped any further development on it and will eventually close down the servers hosting it as well. This comes barely two months after Wave was opened to the public and a little over a year after it was announced. The Wave team will move to other Google products, the speculation being that they’ll join the company’s ‘Facebook-killer’ project.
“Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects,” Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President of Operations and Google Fellow, announced.
Google Wave was one of Google’s most hyped products to date
Announced to much fanfare at Google’s I/O 2009 conference, it was billed as the email killer, a communication service for the modern web. The hype around the project was palpable and when Google finally started accepting regular uses, the invites became some of the most sought after in web history, comparable to the Gmail invites several years before.
But as soon as more people started getting in, it became apparent that no one understood it. It didn’t take long for the enthusiasm to die down, people just didn’t get it, or what it could do. Wave did enjoy a solid audience and a loyal fan base, but most people who tried it out gave up in the first few minutes. The fact that Google didn’t really do a great job at explaining what Wave does and who’s intended for, perhaps because it wasn’t sure either, didn’t help.
Nevertheless, development continued and the Wave team kept adding new features and polishing the existing ones. Finally, in May this year, Google believed Wave was ready for a wide release. At that point it already had a few million registered users. Google Wave was opened to anyone, though, by that time, the hype had all but died down.
Now, Google is saying that Wave just didn’t get the sort of numbers the company is looking for. Each product’s success is analyzed in detail by Google. For Wave, the growth potential just wasn’t there so the decision was made to axe it and stop wasting any more resources on it. The Australian Wave team has been working on the project for several years.
Google Wave’s future
The company has now halted all development on Wave. The servers will be live at least until the end of the year, though the service may be shut down after that and likely will. Some components, the communication protocol the server code and so on, were already open-source and Google may open up more parts of the code as well. There may be a future for Google Wave yet, but it’s probably not going to be under Google’s stewardship.
“The 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, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began. In addition, we will work on tools so that users can easily ‘liberate’ their content from Wave,” Hölzle explained.