What went wrong with Google Wave?

As Google announces it’s ceasing development on Wave, Simon Brew wonders just what went wrong.

"A wave is a live collaborative space on the web where you can get stuff done with groups of people", explains Google when you load up Google Wave.

It then, on first registration, offered a three minute YouTube video to explain just what the service was about, and what you could do with it.

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Maybe, in hindsight, there were warning bells right there. A sentence that sounds like marketing speak from a company that's proven expert at targeting consumers? And a video tutorial just to get going? That's not the start many of us would have expected.

Still, back when it was first unveiled, the service seemed to be enjoying some success. Invites for the beta of Google Wave back in September 2009 were kept to a limit of 100,000, and as such, a black market for them sprung up. Stories emerged that people were spending up to $70 to snag an invite (and some reports suggested the prices went even higher), and the initial interest in the service was sizeable as a result.

Many people simply couldn't wait to get their hands on it, and a massive hit was predicted.

However, in the months that followed, the interest in Wave seemed to have dissipated dramatically. It was made available to the general public at large earlier this year, for instance, and barely anybody seemed to notice. There was certainly no avalanche of people who had been unable to get access until that point signing up.

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It seemed that Wave had made a very big early noise, and then gone silent. By the time the doors were opened, everyone had long since gone home.

In short, what promised to initially be some kind of revolution in online interaction was quickly becoming forgotten. And it all culminated with an announcement from Google on 4 August 2010 that development on Wave was to cease.

This wasn't, as had been implied in some reports, the plug being immediately pulled. But it certainly seems to be the beginning of the end.

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