Not every tech product is an instant hit, even when it’s backed by a big brand name. Every tech company has its flop products, and late last week, Google added another to the pile. It’s a rare misstep for Google, though. After all, the company name is effectively synonymous with Internet search. Gmail offers best in breed spam filtering for consumers and businesses alike, and plenty of other Google products have millions of dedicated users. That doesn’t mean that everything the company does works. There’s still folks a little disturbed by the privacy implications of Google’s Street View addition to its map products. Personally, it doesn’t fuss me; if I wanted my house hidden from view, I could always throw a very large sheet over it.
Late last week, Google announced that it’s pulling the plug on one of its most hyped but least successful products, Google Wave (www.google.com/wave). Wave was touted as a collaborative tool that could replace instant messaging, Wikis, social networking and email within one web-based interface. Initially only available to users by invitation, Google did a great job developing hype for the product by limiting availability, but even when Wave was opened to the general public, it failed to catch on as well as Google might have hoped. The learning curve was a little steep, and it was a product — like many social networks — that really relied on having a critical mass of users to be genuinely useful.
For those who like a little home grown feeling with their technology, it’s worth noting that Wave was developed and maintained in Sydney, and in these uncertain economic times it’s nice to note that Google’s stated that none of the developers will be laid off; instead they’ll be reassigned according to this ITNews report: http://itnews.com.au/News/223654,sydney-staff-survive-googles-wave-cutback.aspx
Wave’s closure — which will happen by the end of the year — doesn’t mean that collaborative software in itself is dead. There’s plenty of other products — Microsoft’s SharePoint being the most prominent — and it’s not as though one product will sink Google.