Google has announced it is stopping development of its Wave social media platform, just over a year after it was launched as a cross between email, IM and a sharing tool.
In a post on the company's blog Urs Hölzle, senior vice president, operations, said that lack of user adoption had resulted in Google taking the decision to stop developing Wave as a standalone product.
"Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don't plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects," Hölzle said.
The open source nature of Wave means that it should be fairly easy to integrate with other products, Hölzle added: "The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave's innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began. In addition, we will work on tools so that users can easily "liberate" their content from Wave."
Wave was launched just over a year ago at Google's I/O conference and initially received a cautious welcome from the tech community, even if Google says differently.
"When we launched our developer preview of Google Wave it set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser. We showed character-by-character live typing, and the ability to drag-and-drop files from the desktop, even "playback" the history of changes -- all within a browser. Developers in the audience stood and cheered. Some even waved their laptops," Hölzle said.
At the time of the launch Lars Rasmussen, software engineering manager at Google said that Wave would offer users, "equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave."
Despite these grand ideas Wave never really took off. Invitations to test it out were sought after but once people started to ride the wave many fell off early and couldn't face getting back on the board.
What was it for? What it a replacement for email? Was it to share documents? Was it to communicate with friends? Work colleagues? Google would of course argue it was for all of these, and more. But that was probably its problem. It didn't have a 'killer' use - there was no one single reason to use Google Wave. It wasn't going to replace email. It wasn't going to replace Facebook or Twitter as ways of sharing photos or keeping in touch with friends.
The idea behind it was good; there's no doubt about that and maybe given more time it could have succeeded. But Google it seems has moved on to other social products - a Facebook killer is rumoured to be on its way.
"Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science. We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web," Hölzle's post concluded.