Today Google announced that they will cease development on Google Wave. Announced and released 14 months ago Wave was touted to revolutionize how we used email. Granted everyone thought we had email down pretty well but this was Google so there was much rejoicing. Wave it turned out really didn't excel at being a replacement for email or really anything else. Most people took a look at it and said "ummm what is it for?". The answer it turned out was document and project collaboration (since it turned out we really didn't need a replacement to email) to which people responded with a resounding "oh……well good" and proceeded to go about their document and project collaboration with the tools they were already collaborating with. This story reminded me one I heard many years ago from a company called Microsoft.
Back in '95 Microsoft was rocking along with its latest OS Windows 95 and its older cousin Windows 3.1 when they announced Bob. People asked well what is Bob? Bob was to be revolutionary way that you would be able to access and navigate your computer system. With an interface designed to be a more natural metaphor to do things and assistants to help you get things done. To which people went "oh……good" and then proceeded access and navigate their computers in the fashion already provided by Microsoft.
Bob and Wave also have one more thing in common. They both have technology developed for them that continued on into other products from their respective companies. From Bob the assistants technology has made its way into Office and later versions of Windows. While the characters like Clippy are much maligned the actual function to ask questions in a natural language was and is useful. Notification of events and items you need to tend also comes from this. From Google we see Wave's real time collaboration features being ported to Google Docs. The ability to drag and drop files is making it into GMail. Buzz undoubtedly owes it conversation tool to Wave. So good-bye Wave we hardly knew ye but we know you'll roll on..