In case you missed it, Google announced yesterday that they are no longer going to support their meeting whiteboard software, Google Wave, due to user adoption not being as high as they would have liked. They have not given an official date as to when Google Wave will leave our lives forever, but they said they estimate they will continue server support until the end of the year. However, you can bet on if Google notices an even bigger drop in usage after this announcement that server support will end well before the end of the year.
While I sympathize that users haven’t greatly adopted Google Wave, I also can’t help but think that this is partly Google’s fault. Google kept the beta period open for a very, very long time and really offered users no assistance in how to use the service. People flocked toward invites when offered them, but then when they logged in for the first time, not much was there to greet them. When I offered to give away my invites, I was swamped with people wanting them. But as soon as they created an account, they asked me what they would use Wave for. No one had any real idea unless they talked with someone who had used it in a meeting setting, which was its intent.
Even after the beta period was over, Google still required users to be invited to register. It’s only been fairly recent that anyone can sign up for Wave with their Google accounts. Was Google banking on Wave to be as sought after as Gmail when it first released? In a way, that’s a bit arrogant of them, considering that they offered very little direction as to wait Wave was even used for. People didn’t need instructions for Gmail, because it was email. It’s not exactly fair to assume that the same users would immediately grasp what Wave was for without doing additional research.
Lastly, Google created very little improvements over using Wave in its one year of existence. A few of the fixes and additions were welcome, but I have a laundry list of things I would have loved to see happen with Wave. It also didn’t help that Google never released an official Wave App for smartphones. That would have greatly increased user adoption alone, especially since the Apps available would not allow users to edit the Waves, only add comments. It’s not exactly what most users wanted/needed.
I, for one, am sad to see Google Wave go. We at Content Solutions used it for our meetings, and I’ve also used it to discuss web development and cite bugs that needed fixing. If Google had been willing to develop it a little further, I think they would have seen enough use to keep it running. But there’s no sense in debating on what could have been. The decision has been made, and Google Wave will soon go bye-bye.
It’s time to look for another whiteboard/meeting web application.