Two weeks ago, everybody was talking about it. It manhandled the blogosphere, was a trending topic on Twitter, and whispers of it could still be heard coming from the mouths of various Gilbane SF attendees last week.
And, OK, we admit it; Google Wave romanced us a little, too. But now that the smoke has cleared and Wave has had ample time to settle into the ‘net, the inevitable troop of naysayers has surfaced. Let’s check out what they have to say:
Google Has a Gigantic Head
Google Wave, a virtual ecosystem for communication and collaboration, better known ‘round the way as an e-mail, collaboration, instant messaging, social networking mashup, is based on Google’s idea of what e-mail would look like if it were designed today. The Developer Preview—an hour and a half long video of Wave features—received a rare standing ovation at this year’s Google I/O.
The reinvention of digital interaction? Of e-mail? Web 3.0? Standing ovations? Wave's practically dripping with ambition, and Uncle G (understandably) isn’t exactly being modest about the whole thing.
Google’s tendency to focus on the consumer before the enterprise has certainly gained them a staggering audience, but when it comes to Wave, the few that remain skeptical wonder if the enterprise is in need of something so radically different. Specifically: how much impact will Wave really have on businesses? Where’s that point of view?
Google’s Looking A Lot Like Microsoft?
The bigger you get, the less room you have to trash talk. Microsoft, like any respectable and ginormous company, is usually pretty careful about publicly criticizing its competitors, hence the reason they haven’t issued any proclamations about Wave and how it does or doesn’t compete with Outlook/Windows Live, etc. Likewise, Google hasn't positioned Wave as competition for Microsoft.
HowEVER, a Program Manager at Microsoft named Dare Obasanjo, did note in a tweet just after Wave was announced that the new tool bears a striking resemblance to two Microsoft projects, Hailstorm and Live Mesh.
Hailstorm was scrapped, but regarding Live Mesh, Obasanjo writes on his blog, "The one interesting parallel worth calling out is that both products/visions/platforms are most powerful when there is a world of different providers each exposing their data types to one or more of these rich user applications (i.e. a Mesh client or Wave client)."
He continues on to admit Google's job well done: "Thus far I think Google has done a better job than we did with Live Mesh in being very upfront about this realization and evangelizing to developers that they participate as providers. Of course, the proof will be in the putting in a year or so when we see just how many services have what it takes to implement a truly interoperable federated provider model for Google Wave."
And then of course there's SharePoint. At a press conference following the announcement of Wave, Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering at Google, reportedly discussed Wave's openness as something lacking in SharePoint. He suggested that in time, businesses considering SharePoint but worried about vendor lock-in may have an attractive lightweight alternative.
We love competition and some slightly underhanded blows just as much as the next guy, but what's most excellent about the Microsoft vs. Google battle is what it means for the Web as a whole. Putting in perfectly is Neil Pearlstein, president of PC Professional, an Oakand based Microsoft Gold Partner who said, "I don't think Google Wave is an immediate threat to SharePoint, but the race is on, and both Google and Microsoft are going to be pushing each other to create innovative products."
That doesn't sound like such a bad thing, now does it?
A Wave of Dreams
At the end of the day, perhaps the only solid, semi-worrisome thing we can think of when it comes to Wave is the excitement surrounding it. The ol’ adage “If you build it, they will come” is obviously being applied to the Google brand, but it may be overly optimistic this time.
The fact remains that Wave hasn’t even been officially released yet—let’s start there. In its current state, Wave is pretty much a promise of really cool things to come, and people are riding that promise like happy little clams. But is it enough? Let's go back to the user experience before enterprise method that Google usually practices.
From an enterprise point of view comes Ric Opal, vice president of Peters & Associates: “At this point, it's not clear how Google Wave development will take into account things such as security, user directory and business policy regulation, all of which pose massive challenges…”
What do you think?