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Google Pulls the Plug on Google Wave

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Just over a year after launching it in beta at the company’s developer conference, Google (s goog) 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:

Related content from GigaOM pro (sub req’d): Google Wave Explained

47 Responses to “Google Pulls the Plug on Google Wave”

  1. Matthew,
    Wave is not dead, it’s alive and well at

    We’ve just released our Wave client for Microsoft Outlook that has a unified inbox (emails and waves in the same inbox)

    We are working on a Wave webapp that will let you sign into any wave server (sign up for beta waiting list at

    And we are working on a Wave server that will run in the cloud or you can deploy locally so that you can migrate your data from Google Wave (sign up for beta waiting list at

    So if you like Wave, you can still keep using it. It’s not going anywhere.

    wave or email us for details: [email protected]

  2. Google was cancelling any further development of the feature, which the Google executive admitted “has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.”

    Well I rarely used wave not because it was new or complex or not even because I didn’t know what was that, the main reason (and many of my friends too) I didn’t want to jump from Gmail to wave (and vice versa) for services that mostly well handled by Gmail it self, if wave was added in Gmail (as integrated) in a way will not annoy the user and at same time can experience its new features I think it will get some good adoption, specially they are from the same provider. I think the problem was not in wave idea itself but the way they put it on plate for other users to experience it was not proper.

  3. I think Wave is a product that has huge potential, even they stopped supporting it they should keep it alive and put the with other as they did Docs with Gmail. Google has shown us future of collaboration with this Google Wave, may be user’s are not ready for such thing right now, they should follow different strategy for it’s campaign.

    Though Google are using different technology they have developed for Wave, they should not kill the product forever.

  4. Simon Sin

    Pitty. It looks like a multiuser One Note! I think I would use it. I have tried Google docs – left hand holding the phone receiver and right hand toying a mouse over my Google spreadsheet with my colleague on the other end of the phone line just across the Victoria Harbour. It was fun looking at her mouse moving around the spreadsheet and move my mouse all over the place indicating where I wish to highlight. I wasn’t aware if it until now though I’d been using gmail and google docs for over a year.

  5. Well, is the end of Google in social networking? I don’t think so, but is a big stop for Google on this area.

    Of course the Big G is telling that can reuse part of the work done and that is part of company culture to learn from failures.

    But a failure like this is difficult to understand, because ruins in part the quite perfect track record held by Google.

    It is difficult to explain why those who created Google mail, Google Docs, Google earth and so on where not able to create something usable and appealing.

    When I first tried Google wave I really had difficulties to understand what was the real use and potential: this is uncommon in Google applications which are often brilliant examples of “do something and do it well”.

    I think the problem could have been in trying to put everything in one place, creating some confusion.

    I hope that Google reenters in social networking market with something more attractive and understandable, because can be a good player against Facebook predominance.

  6. The biggest problem I see with Google is that it’s never clear with these initiatives whether they are building a Product, a Platform or a Proof of Concept, something that I blogged about when Google Buzz, another mushily-defined offering, was released.

    I notes then that, “If anything, the ‘Google Way’ has taught me that their loosely-coupled approach leads to uninspiring, weakly integrated products that may or may not have a predictable lifecycle to them. Put another way, why should I pay prolonged, serious attention to Google Buzz until Google shows that THEY are committed to paying prolonged, serious attention to it?”

    Given the demise of Wave, that assertion rings as true as ever – and I say that as a big-time user of Wave (for team brainstorming and market research).

    Read the full post, if interested:

    Google Buzz: Is it Project, Product or Platform?


  7. Thanks for this information Mathew. It is so sad that the Wave is on its way out. Hopefully they dont remove it totally or else my blog will have a sudden empty drop; as i have just recently embedded the wave onto my blog!

    As i understand Google is going to retain technology and put it to further use but yes wave is waving a bye bye to us.


  8. What actually was wave? It got launched as the future of the web, because well, it’s wave and google… but I still have no idea what it was, what you could do with it, and did it have a utility? Maybe in a few years time it will come back and hit it’s mark, as it seems to be so far in the future that no mortal user has a clue what problem it was trying to solve…

    I got an invitation to wave, and after 4 minutes, I could not make heads nor tails… and went back to Gtalk + facebook + good old MS Office….

  9. Sergey P.

    Google Wave is (was) a product with a great potential. Maybe it indeed was ahead of its time. But one of the problems, IMHO, is that there was no seamless integration with existing products, like GMail. Most of my friends use GMail, and when Buzz came along, that became our active social network too – mainly because to access Buzz you didn’t have to keep a separate web page open, or to install any client – it was just there, inside a GMail’s UI. With Google Wave you have to remember to check it separately, and you have to persuade your correspondents to use it also. That extra-effort was the main turn-off for most of us, I suppose.

  10. It’s a real shame. The real-time multi-user apps supported by wave have a great future. We have a Google Wave travel-planner called “Travel WithMe”,
    and people love the real-time experience.

    Sensing that wave might not be going places, we’ve put it on facebook now as well, but still with Google Wave’s realtime features. It’s at

  11. I never could really figure out what Wave did. Got my beta invite and signed in and was completely lost on how to use it or what it could be used for.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

      • 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.

    • 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….

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    • 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.

  16. 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