Just over a year after launching it at the company’s developer conference, Google has decided to shut down Wave, the real-time collaboration tool that was designed to be a cross between instant messaging, group chat and email, saying it failed to gain enough support from users.

Just over a year after launching it in beta at the company’s developer conference, Google has decided to shut down Wave, the real-time collaboration tool that was designed to be a cross between instant messaging, group chat and email. In a blog post, Senior VP of Operations Urs Hölzle said that while the company had high hopes for the product, and despite the fact that it had “numerous loyal fans,” Google was cancelling any further development of the feature, which the Google executive admitted “has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.”

The original vision for Wave, as described by developer Lars Rasmussen in the Google blog post that launched the new service last May, was to take existing methods of digital communication and collaboration such as instant messaging, chat, email and wikis and blend them all into a single product. (Rasmussen and his brother Jens were the original developers behind what became Google Maps, after the search giant bought their company, Where 2 Tech.) The central idea, he said, was to design “a communications system that took advantage of computers’ current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms.” A “wave” was described as “equal parts conversation and document.”

But despite the power of the software, which allowed users to embed videos, graphics, audio files and other content into a message — and even allowed them to see others typing responses in real time — users did not take to the new service, perhaps in part because it was confusing. Was it for chat? For working on documents? For sharing files? In his blog post announcing the death of the product, even Holzle admits that Google “wasn’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication.” As it turns out, most of them responded with indifference or even outright antipathy, although there were some prominent supporters. There was also some confusion and overlap when Google launched Buzz, which had many similar features to Wave.

Holzle said that some of the technology developed for Wave would make its way into other Google products and services. Real-time typing has already become part of Google Docs, the company’s existing collaboration tool, while the ability to drag-and-drop media files into a message was recently added to Gmail.

Here’s the promotional video that Google produced for Google Wave:

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  1. so…i can still get to google wave. when do they turn this off or will it live in perpetuity, just in maintenance only mode?

    1. My understanding is that it will continue to live in some form, but won’t be supported or developed any further.

  2. Bye Wave – looked at it once and laughed. My idea is better and will benefit charities. We just need Google to get in touch so I can explain it to them. Video here-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lAN0jlQPFE

  3. Sanjay Maharaj Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    I just can’t see how Google will ever compete in the social media networking space, they are seen too much as a purely search company and that is why they are having great difficulities in engineering and gaining entry and market share in the social space

    1. ever hear if YouTube?

      1. Google didn’t create YouTube, it acquired it once it was succesful. Their web video offering was Google Video, which is still around, but used all that much.

  4. Next time you consider adopting on a Google product be aware that they are likely to do this again. When a business stretches in all directions to try and be omnipotent, some things snap. Google is the king of search, and allied products, maps, streetview and analytics. However, if it does it make things as simple to use as it should do, it introduces too many services too quickly and the lines of the marketing message get blurred and customers get confused. Google has lost its clarity in its marketing messages because it appears to be rushing to get market share, everywhere.

    1. This is a little scary for businesses who want to try to piggyback off Google products. What about developers or consultants who had devised plans based on Wave’s success. They’ll be wary next time.

      Business tools clearly need to define use cases, only then can businesses map them to their needs. Google had none and was totally unstructured. At Hyper Office, we’ve found that companies need their collaboration tools to be wrapped around the team/group structure.

  5. It really rocked! 36% (8 votes)
    It was too complex! 59% (13 votes)
    I never tried it! 5% (1 votes)
    Total Votes: 22


  6. stupid move on googles part.
    let stupid people catch on and catch up, but don’t do away with such a wonderful useful product!!!

  7. Oh, so that went out pretty fast then? I admit, I saw it in my account, but never took any particular interest in it, it was probably more on the account that I’m so used to thinking that gmail is just for emails and documents, that the Wave has never crossed my mind.

  8. Thats too bad. I always thought google wave had potential as a web collaboration product. Good product, poor execution and marketing.

    1. I think it did have potential as a collaboration tool — perhaps it was too early, or the potential just wasn’t obvious enough to enough people.

      1. My experience was that there just weren’t enough people on it for me to collaborate with. I would have loved to employ it with projects at work, but getting 10-15 people to buy-in and sign up for an account just to use it was too much friction. They should have allowed users to sign up without getting a new gmail account.

    2. Bad timing was probably the reason why it was killed. Wave will be revived (by someone, somewhere) 3 years from now. Perhaps it will be part of a web 3.0 or something.

      Shows that Google has become a mega-corporate, investing in research-oriented technologies that are amazing from the tech perspective (and hence get blessed/funded internally), but are too far removed from contemporary reality.

      Wonder how Facebook would deal with an idea like wave..if they would succeed in engineering it in a non-confronting manner….

  9. Google Wave had too clunky an interface and seemed to be trying to do too much at once.
    Adding in products that Google already offers, such as Google Docs and GTalk (with group chat), and although no one seems to really use it-Google Groups.
    And then adding in that they let it be invite only for way to long for something that requires other people to be on it for you to really use,
    and you end up with a recipe for disaster.

    Although, to be fair, I can see how it could be the perfect tool for Master Mind-type groups.

  10. This must be one of the most stupid decisions by Google. They are killing a product that never had enough time to catch on. Especially considering that it was invite-only for so long. Almost every day, caught in email hell at work, I wish we could use Google Wave. Google is killing it before it has had time to show its full power in the enterprise. Google should give it more time.

    1. No – they should kill it and buy my idea – it’s way better – by far.

      Trust me – I know what I’m on about. :)

      1. God, give it a rest already. I thought Wave was an excellent idea, Google just seems to be incapable of mounting a decent promotional campaign for anything it puts out. Nexus One, anybody?

        Even Google Voice suffers from this.

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