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Google Wave. Now In A Box.

Sep 7, 2010 11:00:00 AM

A year ago, Google Wave was the talk of Tech Avenue. Conversations about a new kind of communication – one that could “replace email” – popped up in breakrooms and team meetings around the country. Last month, however, Wave was shut down due to low adoption rates, leaving people wondering: “will Wave be lost forever?”

Indeed, wave.google.com will be lost forever as of December 31. Wave code, however, will live on. Most of Wave’s code will be released for open source development; Google has already released the code in order to further develop their “existing example Wave server and web client into a more complete application: Wave in a Box.”

That’s according to Google’s Alex North, who writes that Wave in a Box will include:

  • “an application bundle including a server and web client supporting real-time collaboration using the same structured conversations as the Google Wave system
  • a fast and fully-featured wave panel in the web client with complete support for threaded conversations
  • a persistent wave store and search implementation for the server (building on contributed patches to implement a MongoDB store)
  • refinements to the client-server protocols
  • gadget, robot and data API support
  • support for importing wave data from wave.google.com
  • the ability to federate across other Wave in a Box instances, with some additional configuration.”

Google wants to offer developers the chance to run Wave servers on their own hardware – and integrate Wave capabilities with existing operations, since Wave turned out to be more of a niche product rather than the revolution some expected. While Wave might be a failure inside Google’s doors, it may become more successful in open source land.

So why didn’t Wave catch on in the market? Some say the revolutionary concept came about too soon – in fact, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told CNet’s Ina Fried on the day of Wave’s death that “society is not fundamentally ready” for Google’s thoughts on the future of how we communicate.

Similarly, some say the concept and interface were too hard to understand (for a humorous example, see Easier To Understand Than Wave.com). In fact, Gartner in part predicted this in their 2009 research note, in which analysts wrote that Wave “would be challenged by its large aggregation of features, which can daunt users” and “likely overlap with multiple areas in an enterprise’s IT environment.”

Whatever the case, Wave didn’t fly.

As for Wave’s afterlife, there’s already talk of how Wave capabilities will be woven into existing systems – specifically leveraging Wave to allow for real-time collaborative editing within Google Docs. We believe the options for development extend far and wide, and encourage our peers to echo Google’s policy and “try new things” to continue growing business.

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