Time to Wave Goodbye
Google Wave dies a slow death, and yet there are some people who really haven’t seen the benefit. For me, it was one of the most sophisticated & user-friendly platforms available for e-mail services. It had a level of maturity that elevated it to the realm of a communication platform, allowing more to have real-time conversations through a secure messaging interface. So, what went wrong?
When they launched the product last year, the demo video which was a tutorial for using the platform was enchanting. My interest was fired up when I first used it with some colleagues and we were soon dishing out invites to our networks. It just seems that it never really gathered momentum. But how anyone who frequently uses e-mail platforms, like Lotus Notes or Outlook, can justify their sanity when trying to follow e-mail chains on those clunky crashing programmes, just baffles me. But does this say more about the Wave product, or does this reflect more about the way we, as users, are engaging with e-mails?
In my humble opinion, Google was confused about who the target audience was for this product. Was it your average punter or small businesses? Even with the vast user database Google has, there was a lack of clarity over its purpose, which meant even Gmail users, who should have been the easiest to convert, had troubles differentiating between the products. My thought was that if you were a Gmail user, Wave would be an easy transition, but clearly there isn’t a need for it. The demo videos were more tailored towards a business user, but yet from a usability perspective it should have been aimed at the more casual user. This lack of clear communication was one of the factors that lead to the fall of the product, as people were just not sure of when they should be using it over other products.
Before Wave is archived away as another Google ‘experiment’ let’s just celebrate what it was good for. From a social perspective, it really started transforming emails into conversations which is a great step in the right direction. If we keep talking about social media being about having “conversations online” with our “network” of friends, then surely having a way to continue that fluid dialogue through e-mail is a positive thing? This can only be the start of Google looking for more ammunition in taking some of the social pie from Facebook. Google Me will surely be an extension of Gmail, Wave, Buzz etc. However, there is a wide open gap for a player like Facebook to own the e-mail communication space, which might then begin to damage Gmail.
There are lots of people who claim e-mail should be left alone and kept simple, but I say that if we don’t start moving into something more user-friendly and e-community based then we will miss out on huge opportunities in linking our communication into a more robust & seamless platform. Wave will be remembered for pushing the boundaries in online conversations, and trying to change our behavior to reflect the ever evolving social dynasty.