Google on Aug. 4 said it will no longer build Google Wave as a standalone product after the real-time collaboration platform failed to gain enough traction.
The company will maintain the Google Wave site through the end of the year and apply its technology to Google projects, said Urs H??Ã©lzle, senior vice president, Operations, and Google Fellow.
Launched to rare fanfare in May 2009, Google Wave combines e-mail, instant messaging, live text editing, photos, video and social software in one platform, based on HTML5 and the XMPP protocol.
However, the early platform was a rough sketch and let users in by invite only. Many users complained the platform was too complex and too noisy.
Google launched Wave to all users who wanted it in May after spending a year adding Wave playback, history and several perks to help users manage the wild, wild west feeling of Wave.
Wave co-creator Lars Rasmussen told eWEEK in an interview for the broader launch the platform had more than 1 million users.
Wave’s sweet spot, Rasmussen said, was “getting work done,” particularly for a group or team of people. Students, teachers and programmers are among those using Wave to collaborate.
Some startups might be thrilled to acquire 1 million users, but Google is no startup. Google has hundreds of millions of people using its search engine, some 180 million Gmail users and even tens of millions of users for its Gmail-based social conversation service Google Buzz.
Hence, the retirement of work on Wave as a standalone platform. Google CEO Eric Schmidt told media at the Techonomy conference in Tahoe, Calif. August 4:
“What happened was we liked the UI and we liked a lot of the new features in it but it didn’t get enough traction. So we’re taking those technologies and applying them to new technologies that are not announced. So basically we’ll get the benefits of Google Wave but not as a separate product.”
Without reading too much into this, it’s possible the live editing capabilities would get added to products such as Google Docs.
While Google hasn’t said as much, it is likely Rasmussen and his team will be moved to other Google projects by the end of the year.
H??Ã©lzle noted that core components of Wave, such as drag-and-drop and live typing, are already available as open source.
Google will also help users pull their content from Wave and use it elsewhere.
This isn’t the first time Google has shuttered products that didn’t gain momentum. The company shut down its Lively virtual world program and several other products in December 2008.