Review of Google Wave

Though I'm still waiting on my actual Google Wave account so I can do a more official review, I wanted to provide some initial thoughts. First and foremost, Google Wave exists because Google is missing out on all the Facebook content being posted because it's all private. As more and more people log time on Facebook, Google loses dominance because it can't access that information and serve it up for search. In short, Google Wave is an attempt to take the Facebook Feed and other content and move it into the open or at least somewhere that Google can get to it.

I think that many corporations could greatly benefit from this but they don't like having sensitive information hosted externally and Google doesn't have a consulting services. I doubt that most people will abandon Facebook for this but there will certainly be a league of dedicated followers.

I read a somewhat scathing review of Google Wave before I did my own homework and I’m glad that I didn’t let that warp my first impression of the technology.

Google Waves is a system that allows people to have persistent, rich conversations that include text, images, video, or any other form of media. By persistent I mean that these communications become permanent documents rather than just vanishing as SMS messages and e-mails tend to do.

If you think about e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, SMS, web sites, etc. they are all really doing the same thing. They are channels for conversations. Even news articles now give you the ability to weigh in. But each of these technologies is implemented on a different system with a different API. Google Wave is essentially a platform that aspires to hold these conversations in a central place.

These conversations are really not all that different from what we’re used to seeing already. The interesting part is that Google will hold them on a server centrally so they can be searched and managed. A Google Wave thread may start as a chat and evolve into a full blown discussion group. The point is that it is not necessary to draw a line between the two. Conversations can evolve, grow, and contract.

This is important for Google as a company because while Google has cornered the market on searching web content, they don’t do a great job of tapping into real time conversations ala Twitter. Real time conversations are becoming more interesting around news events such as the election in Iran, or Kanye West at the VMAs.

I do see this as a bit of a threat to Facebook, Twitter and the others. Make no mistake; Google Wave is targeting social media. The potential for Google Wave is diminished by the pending retaliatory strike that will be launched by social media companies to ward off adoption. The chaos that ensues will confuse the masses and delay broad adoption of a powerful technology.

Perhaps more interesting than Google Wave itself is the potential for building upon it. Once rich conversations exist in a standard form, there will inevitably be interesting projects that leverage it for unintended benefit. For example, conversations could easily be used as a make shift content management system whereby web sites evolve from the conversations held by stakeholders.

Google Wave is still a bit buggy and there will be a lot of stability improvements in the next few months. Look for the return salvo from Facebook sometime in early 2010.

Below is a length (1hr, 20min) video preview of Google Wave.