Earlier this week Google announced its upcoming communications platform Wave. I watched the entire 80 minute developer preview video today and was intrigued and impressed. I signed up for beta access right away. It is definitely worth your time if you are interested in how internet communication will change over the next five years. Go ahead and check it out before continuing onto my thoughts below. I’ll wait.
Welcome back. Pumped? Want to start communicating and being all collaborative and stuff? Me too. Just wish I had someone to be collaborative with.
Yes, the video is exciting. I laughed at Lars’s comment that they were planning on adding features for “power users” in the future — half of the current email using population cannot even compose a properly descriptive subject line! Wave is by today’s standards a tool directed at power users.
However, Google isn’t making a revolutionary new communications platform for “today’s standards”. They are trying to start the transition towards tomorrow’s platform. The key to widespread adoption is of course “federation”, which is a necessary step, and a very brave one for a private corporation. Google is to be applauded.
On the official Google blog the Wave team makes the point that:
… two of the most spectacular successes in digital communication, email and instant messaging, were originally designed in the ’60s to imitate analog formats — email mimicked snail mail, and IM mimicked phone calls.
Sounds like an opportunity for innovation.
Consider the next generation. Email use is already down among American teenagers who use Facebook, SMS, and other social media to communicate. Over the past two years I have noticed a marked decrease in my own email use. Facebook, Twitter and blogs help me communicate with friends and and colleagues. The problem of course is aggregation, which is Google’s promise for this project.
The new generation will be much more willing to adopting Wave. For them the change will be organic, an unnoticeable evolution. Imagine being a high school student doing a group assignment using Wave? I am so old I can still remember what a blackboard looks like.