Remember Google Wave? Before Buzz came along, Google Wave was the hot new social networking feature from the world’s largest search company. It launched with much fanfare at Google’s I/O conference last May, but has since failed to get much traction, in part because no one could figure out what, exactly, to do with it. Then in February, along came Buzz, which grabbed the spotlight from its Google cousin, in part because of the furor that arose over the service’s approach to privacy. Now Google Wave is rolling out a feature that it clearly hopes will catch the imagination of some web users and maybe jump-start Wave’s popularity.
The new feature allows users to add a bookmarklet to their browser that will create a new Wave from any web page, embedding a link inside the Wave so that other users can discuss it. If the page contains a video or image, that will be embedded as well — in a playable format, in the case of videos — so that users can check it out before discussing it. And Google has also provided web designers with an easy way to add “Wave This” buttons to their pages, and/or to produce clickable URLs that will generate a new Wave discussion.
Whether this new feature will bring in any new users for Google Wave is difficult to say. So far, the service’s biggest problem seems to be a lack of awareness that it even exists — since the initial attention around the launch died down, there has been little or no public discussion of the service (although it does have its fans), and Buzz has drawn much of the attention given to social networks at Google. Wave has been invite-only until recently, however, and if the Wave This button starts showing up all around the web, it’s possible that it might get more popular interest. But then Buzz is fighting that battle too, and the king of the hill at the moment is Facebook and its global “like” button. There may not be much room left for Wave to capture a lot of social mindshare.
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