Google's Wave collaboration platform will soon face its first true test when the company rolls it out to 100,000 consumer and business users. Perhaps the biggest mystery is what companies will do to build on top of the Wave platform. British Telecom's Ribbit VOIP arm plans to launch telephony-based gadgets built specifically for the Google Wave platform. Moreover, Google isn't the only company embracing real time for collaboration. Companies such as Etherpad and Watchitoo already offer real-time collaboration.
The time for fun, buggy demonstrations with select media and analysts is
over. Google's Wave collaboration platform will soon face its first true test
when the company rolls it out to 100,000 consumer and business users.
Google Sept. 30 will make
the service, which lets users send instant messages,
share documents and videos, and co-edit content in real time, available for
users who offered to help report bugs when they signed up on the Google Wave site
Let's take a step back and see how Google got here. Google in July made Wave
available to thousands of developers to test
, and open-sourced
key components of Wave. Wave co-creators Lars and
Jens Rasmussen promoted the platform with hack days for the open-source Wave API,
the platform for press and media.
Google took another major step in getting Wave ready for broader adoption
Sept. 22 when it launched
Google Chrome Frame, an open-source plug-in that enables
Chrome's Webkit rendering engine to run in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Essentially, the tool turns IE into the Chrome Web browser. From a
technological perspective, Google did this because IE does not adequately
handle HTML5, which is what Wave is based on. From a business perspective, IE
boasts the biggest market penetration at 67 percent, giving Wave the broadest
platform possible. When Google launches Wave Sept. 30, it will encourage
IE users to install Google Chrome Frame to better
enable Wave in their Chrome browsers.
All of these steps are a lot of build up to let a sampling of the general
public preview Wave, which wowed observers when Google unveiled it at Google
I/O in May. Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said Google can use these
100,000 users as a big petri dish of experimentation.
"Because Google Wave requires people to think about working
differently, it's not clear yet what the sweet spot will be," Schadler
said. "However, you can bet that vendors and CTOs will be watching this
with interest to see what develops."
To be sure, Wave is a break from the traditional, more narrow way of
communicating via e-mail or instant messaging, which enable one-to-one
exchanges. Anyone who joins a Wave can message anyone else on the Wave, and
edit what others write.
For the uninitiated, Wave can be a daunting
, unmitigated free-for-all of chatter. End users
will have to adapt to this and decide if it is the right application for their
personal and/or professional lives.