May 29, 2009 |
The blogosphere has been abuzz over the new product announced by Google named Wave for the last few days. I myself have somewhat mixed feelings because judging by the screenshots Wave is not exactly what we love Google for – minimalism and style. To be 100% honest, Wave looks like a complex application with a very crowded mashup that could really come from anywhere but certainly not from Google.
So I decided to share my feelings here (obviously understanding how many negative comments I will get) because there is one thing that bothers me in addition to impressions after watching the screenshots: if such an application was launched by an independent startup, not Google, the vast majority of people would not have noticed it at all.
In fact, many startups are launched to never be noticed by anyone at all – even if they are based on new and innovative ideas. Yet a company like Google can afford coming up with a huge mashup or mashups (which also promises to be a platform to integrate third-party applications and make the mashup even huger than it now is) and getting all the positive reviews in the world for this pretty strange product.
Now I know that the Wave is supposed to be cool and everything and it also has the term “collaboration” attached to it which must make the product double cool. But wait, can you finally tell me what problem it solves to end users so that we could use it with a purpose and not because it is supposed to be cool?
Of course group collaboration must be big and arranging the entire working process in a nice environment with real-time messages, photos and group editing smoothly integrated should probably have some audience. But is not it really funny when Google Wave is compared to FriendFeed rooms from the very beginning? Is not Google supposed to innovate and be the first company to introduce the most promising ideas (or maybe acquiring FriendFeed could be a better option)?
And is there really any unsatisfied demand for teamwork applications? Just Google teamwork or group collaboration and you will easily see there’s no shortage of companies pushing their desktop and web-based applications to users at a fee and free of charge as well.
Besides, if they wanted to offer something for group collaboration, why did not they simply integrate it into Google Docs? I do use this service quite a lot when I have a document or a spreadsheet that multiple people should be able to access and edit simultaneously and the existing chat functionality is far from enough when one really needs to discuss the details of a document while editing it. Yet no promise of improving that part – yet we have (Ok, will have) a totally new collaboration platform instead. Does not really make sense to me.
Also what many of us are already waiting for Google to do is finally grab all the information it has on each and every Google account owner (me and virtually all my friends included) and throw in a giant social network together at no time – yet connecting us all on the best of all social graphs in existence and also taking our interests, search and browsing history into account. It must sound terrifying but at least it will make sense as there’s no company in the world that could do anything like that – but Google.
Finally, if the idea is to simply combine everything – email, IM, photos, documents, videos – in one place, it may be hard to believe but we all have such a place already and the vast majority of us are pretty happy with it. It is called the desktop and most people don’t need any new complex web application to replace a few of the things they currently do on their desktops.
Actually, I do understand the enthusiasm of my fellow bloggers when they review Wave and what their expectations and thoughts are. Of course Google is great in making impressive presentations and also in producing things that are very swift and impressive in their look and feel. So Ok, Wave probably deserves at least some of the great reviews it has already received (though I insist that we should not be too enthusiastic until we all can try it out instead of just watching the demo). But even if it looks good and cool, it still looks very much like yet another mashup to me – another complex application that is intended to combine a number of processes into one hoping to make us more comfortable within one browser tab instead of using multiple tabs at once. Yet the question is: if it were not for Google announcing Wave, how many people would have bothered with yet another complex application if it came from some unknown startup?