Google Wave Turns One

June 3rd, 2010 by | 1 Comment

image from Shekhar_Sahu

Last week, Google Wave turned one year old. After a slow roll-out based on an invitation-only launch strategy, the platform enjoyed extensive conversations of its role in the future of online communication, but very little practice. Unfortunately, not much has changed, and the few individuals who were working in Wave at first have, on the whole, abandoned the platform since.

Google Wave rolled social networking, email, collaboration, chat, and more all into one platform, giving users the ability to reach much of their needed functions in one place. However, the acceptance rate of the platform as consumers’ one and only has been minimal at best; the folks at Google have spent much of the last year trying to explain why the program is useful at all.

Some of the problem has been based in the fact that Google Wave was opened to the general public only two weeks ago, so that users who did give the program a try found themselves in short supply of contacts. People who wanted to use it with their colleagues needed to share their invites with them all to make the program accessible to them all. As with any new tech category, the users also had to learn how to best utilize the features, a learning curve that many folks in the workforce didn’t have the time to ride. As for individuals who wanted to use the program for fun or for alternative reasons, the platform seemed a large investment for unclear benefits. What could Wave accomplish that a few phone calls couldn’t?

Of course, that’s not the point. This program set an entirely new standard for digital communication and collaboration, one that the majority of users have yet to even be able to realize in their daily life. Many bloggers are putting their money on Wave to be the way of our future…a full ten years out or more. Google has made an investment in their future and ours by rolling out a product that anticipates our needs even before we realize them, but they’ll need to find a way to translate the program to the current mindset of users so as to not lose their prominence as first to market.

Part of that will be finding a way to pull users away from traditional, individualized programs that fill some of the same needs and make the transition as smooth as possible. Google Wave’s new templates and tutorials are helping to bridge the gap between new users familiar with other programs like Basecamp or even Facebook and the Google-savvy folks who are already waving their way into the future.

As for if Wave will ever provide a new platform for marketers, that remains yet to be seen. Until the general public finds their voice on Wave, there is no community for advertisers to join and no clear means for participation. In the meantime, the first step is getting on Wave and helping to build the community that could redefine our future.

Claire Grinton is an account planner at DraftFCB in San Francisco. Find more from Claire or shoot her a line at claire[dot]grinton[at]gmail.

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