The potential power of Google Wave is far bigger than its demo

I was just reading this CNET post on wave. Rafe Needleman and Stephen Shankland (both working for CNET) answer questions about Google Wave in an attempt to explain what it is.

Sadly, they don’t really get past the Google Wave demo itself. In my opinion, the demo itself, although remarkable, is not very important. Google Wave isn’t impressive because Google build a cool demo. There are 10 other reasons why Google Wave is more important than that. Google set a vision that will change the way we will communicate online.

What I find remarkable about this vision is that Google is breaking through some existing boundaries that hold web 2.0 progress back so far. I could repeat my 10 points made earlier, but I would like to focus on a subset.

Google has not only unified different types of online communication (e-mail, instant messaging, SMS) into one paradigm (wave), but they have also ensured that it can run fully distributed and can integrate with most of the things we have. To understand what that means I urge you not to see Google Wave as a new service, but as a new service layer.

Whereas services like e-mail, instant messaging and social networks always have been build on the premise of a walled garden business model, Google Wave can become the new communication structure services can develop upon. It is set up from the start as an open source project with a clear focus on development API’s. I’m sure that Google will launch a Google Wave service at some point that will attract many users. But it also allows any other service to use that same paradigm to implement unified online communication.

Google has not only spent time and energy making sure Wave can suck content into the platform, it has spent as much time and energy making sure it can get out too! Farewell destination based business models. Farewell walled gardens. If Wave gets adapted, it will put the user in control, and that is exactly what we need to do to break out of our current web 2.0 boundaries. That is what makes this development so remarkable.

Google just did some major plumbing on the web, and honestly, they were probably the only ones that could do this. They, unlike other companies, do not need walled gardens to make lots of revenues. After all, their walled garden is the entire web, and beyond 😉


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12 Responses to The potential power of Google Wave is far bigger than its demo

  1. stygz says:

    Thanks for finally putting this out there. I was thinking the same thing while reading the CNET article. The only thing I would add is that it’s not all Google’s creation. The Wave protocol is based on XMPP ( which has been around for a decade. Also, while I agree that it goes further toward putting the user in control, there are aspects that businesses need to weigh carefully. I have written a blog entry on Wave SPAM ( and I am working on a blog entry regarding the possible legal ramifications of a single discussion existing on several distributed servers being managed and secured by disparate hosts.

  2. Reading up on Google Wave this morning Alexander. The protocol/platform aspect is tantalizing. Looking at it from an enterprise perspective, wondering about its potential to serve as the real-time, multidirectional layer between applications.

  3. Wade Dorrell says:

    I find it interesting that so many discussions of the communication platform/protocol aspect of Wave ignore FeedSync (previously known as SSE). FeedSync’s a protocol specification with largely the same intent (bi-directional change communication) but it stands on Atom instead of XMPP. 1.0 of SEE was back in 2007. There’s been plenty of bi-directional plumbing work done on the web to date. Google’s Wave client & thinking is what is unique, the communication protocol is just different (for no good reason that I’ve yet been convinced of.)

    • I guess the most important thing is not really the choice of technology, but the fact that Google puts its weight behind it to create an open source version that will let developers run away with it. This could get fast adoption

  4. Google Wave is really going to change communications online. I agree that Google is sort of ‘underplaying’ it. They are well aware of how this could change everything, not just e-mail. Please note I’m not 110% on the ‘it’s a revolution’ bandwagon just yet, let’s get our hands on it first and REALLY see!

    I’m sure there will be an adjustment period online for the less inclined and less tech savvy users, but they will come eventully. Google Wave is very exciting and I cannot wait to get my hands on the beta release of it in the coming months.

  5. Jeff says:

    Very nice viewpoints. I think google wave can also make orkut a key player in the social media world. I think adoption will be slow amongst all users, but those that are more technically inclined will be all over it.

  6. As a developer, I’d have to disagree. Google didn’t do a very good job on making sure everyone can plug in to this platform.
    For example, they didn’t put out a .NET version of their API, but .NET is one of the top technologies to build software in. If there realy are no walled gardens for Google, then why not have this available to prove that?

    Another question I have is, what would happen if, say Microsoft would build a Silverlight 3 UI for Google Wave (unlikely, but hey)? I’d say that they would get their application Id revoked within the hour this thing gets out. So no walled gardens? I don’t think so. Just another nice marketing stunt.

    • Jonathan. I’m not so sure that Google won’t release that at some point. But blaming them for walled gardens and use Microsoft as an example is a bit……well….. stretching? 😉

  7. Mike W says:

    I’m a fan of finding technologies that are decentralized and not under the roof of one corporate entity, but that work together to create a truly agnostic platform. Don’t get me wrong, I love Google apps, but there is a little voice that keeps telling me to be careful who I trust.

    oh…wait, that was just my wife!

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