For several reasons (mainly to do with lack of time) I’m a bit late to the game with this one. And usually I’d let that go. But the launch of Google Wave is, to my mind, such a hugely important technological development that I just can’t let it rest.
If you’ve missed the coverage (and that’s not difficult as it’s still in private beta) then you wont know that last month, at its I/O developers conference, Google announced a new product – Google Wave – that will be available later this year.
Google Wave is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web. The central component is the ‘wave’ protocol which is best described as a mixture between email, IM and a collaboration suite like Google Docs.
It allows users to message each other in real-time (or not) and collaborate on documents. Google has also constructed a (hosted) application which will act much like Gmail does for email. But the technology itself is open source and Google is therefore actively encouraging anyone and everyone to build their own front end applications to display and use waves (the technology itself, like email, will be vendor or platform neutral however).
The video below is the announcement and demo from the conference. It’s over an hour long but highly recommended. However if, like me, your time is precious then this detailed, but concise overview from Techcrunch should do the trick!
Google’s main challenge will be rolling this out. Email is ubiquitous. So is IM. And I don’t see this changing anytime soon. But Google Wave (like so many collaboration and social platforms) demands critical mass. Getting enough people using the technology will be vital to its ultimate success – I don’t necessarily want to be using email for some conversations and wave for others.
So there is lots to work out. And it’s hard to really evaluate the service without being able to try it. But, from what I have seen so far, this has the potential to be a real game-changer. And if anyone can do it, it’s Google!