Google to end support for Wave at the end of this year

Google is to pull the plug on its Wave project just over a year after it was announced.

Designed as a cross between a social networking site and an email inbox, it had features including the creation of an event or document, windows for contacts and mailbox navigation.

It was notorious during 2009 for its beta testing period, in which users had to be ‘invited' to use it, resulting in social networking sites being filled with requests for invitations and it being a permanent trending topic on Twitter.

However since being announced at the Google I/O web developer-focused conference in 2009, it has been known more for hype than for its actual content which was generally always empty. Google described it as ‘a web app for real-time communication and collaboration', saying that its features included character-by-character live typing, the ability to drag-and-drop files from the desktop and playback the history of changes.

Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of operations and Google fellow, said that it was ‘jazzed' about Wave internally, despite not being sure ‘how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication'.

However despite the spin and fanfare, Hölzle said that despite it having numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption Google would have liked.

Hölzle said: “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. 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 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.”

One of its users was David Harley, senior research fellow at ESET, who claimed that there is a good idea buried in Wave somewhere.

He said: “I have an account, but I never quite found the right context for it. It looked like it could be useful for collaborative research papers/projects, but I was always nervous about trying it out properly on a live project under pressure of deadlines, given that Google's approach to learning it was basically ‘here's the site, here's a toy, Wave explaining the basics, now go and design a power station'.

“Now I probably won't bother with it at all even if a less pressured collaborative project comes along, because Google aren't committing to keeping the site going after the end of the year, and I'm not going to stand on a rug that might be pulled out from under me.”

He questioned the likelihood of developers cheering over character-by-character live typing, and said if Google made more use of the technology in Docs, it will be worth revisiting.

Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, said: “I tried Google Wave myself when it was first launched into the market, there was much discussion over the benefits it could bring, as well as the disadvantages, so we were all encouraged to try this new tool for ourselves. Personally, I found that it didn't meet my needs and, as a result, I never went back. But we shouldn't necessarily blame Google for this.

“However, I like Google because of projects such as Google Wave, they have an innovative idea and then bring it to the market and end users. Some people may love it, whilst others, like myself, may find that it does not have the functionality that we need. But what Google does do, above anything else, is promote creativity, which is somewhat rare nowadays and something that more vendors and providers should be endorsing.”

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