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Apathy kills Google's new-age Wave

Idea unappreciated beyond the Googleplex

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Google is closing down development of its new-age communications platform Wave due to lack of interest.

The Chocolate Factory said Wednesday that it's stopping development of Wave as a stand-alone product because of a lack of user adoption.

The Wave site is being put on life support until the end of the year, with the technology extended for use in "other" Google projects. Google has promised to deliver tools that let early adopters extract their data and content from Wave implementations.

Greybeard partners such as Novell and SAP who though they could look cool by hanging ten on Google's Wave have been told they can keep using the more than 40,000 lines of code that has been released under open source — code for drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing.

Sure, nothing like surfing once you've lost the wave, dude.

Google Wave, an email/IM/document-sharing/real-time-thingummy, was unveiled to a standing ovation at the company's I/O conference in San Francisco in May 2009.

Seems like the Googlers were more excited about whatever Google Wave was than were those outside the Mountain View Factory.

Senior vice president of operations and Google fellow Urs Hölzle admitted in a blog here: "We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren't quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication."

Google vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra, who announced the tool in 2009 and was reported Wednesday to be preparing to lead Google's fight against Facebook, had called Wave an unbelievable demonstration of what is possible in the browser.

"You will forget you are looking at a browser," he concluded.

Instead, most people left I/O and forgot about Wave.

There were the standard invitation-only offers to participate in testing Wave, with some people actually spending money on invitations. What quickly followed, though, was the realization that Wave was something that was as difficult to understand as it was to make work — even for Googlers. The company created a complex architecture of robots and wavelets with new communications protocols all heavily dependent on the as-yet-unfinished HTML5.

If there was a roadmap, it wasn't evident: Google last month released Splash, Wave-client code to view Wave content on sites using the still-dominant web browser Internet Explorer, having earlier said that IE users could stick with Chrome Frame instead.

Further, Spash didn't work with Wave's FedOne communications protocols — that was supposed to happen in three months time, Google told OSCON in late June when it was still pimping Wave and appealing to open sourcers to start coding.

With all that new code and all those moving parts, Wave crashed: it was crashing in demos last November, six months after Wave was unleashed, and it was still crashing a year later at OSCON. ®

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