It was always on the cards. Google had to move along. Search is cool, rocking and all that is fine. But their business model could no longer be a one-trick pony (search-based advertising). Not for eternity. Business world has so many examples of such one-trick ponies who were leaders in their business, but went down eventually since their primary product and business model were proved redundant (Polaroid films, Western Union telegrams).
So, the focus on Google apps and building a business model around such web-based productivity tools was an essential move. Google apps is a great offering to start with, but still Google has to go a long way before they can claim to have one of the best productivity suites in business. Google Wave is exactly the right step in that direction.
I was skeptical in the beginning. In fact, after skimming through couple of articles in Mashable and ReadWriteWeb, I was almost planning on throwing up just a tweet saying something like “yet another collaboration tool”. But, then I decided to just watch the developer preview video and learn a little bit before passing on a judgment. That proved to be a very wise decision, as I am now quite happy to be proved wrong.
So, if it is just a collaboration tool, why would I want to change my judgment? Because, I have a feeling that this tool strikes the right chords somehow. When I see the demo of the tool in the preview, I see it working the way it is supposed to. I see myself using this tool. Not just because of some of the cool features, but because it seems to have the right mix and just the right amount of complexity for well-meaning users to pick and start using it.
One of my primary complaints with many of the collaboration tools, version control systems and productivity suites is that they are overly complex, have separate interfaces for activities and have many features which I am disinclined to use. Projects these days are run with lean mechanics as the primary focus. The collaboration and communication processes and tools should be as simple and non-intrusive as possible.
The simplest form of collaboration should happen right from my Inbox, right in front of my eyes and should have the simplest form of content possible: basic rich text, basic diagrams, images and hyperlinks. Collaborative editing and commenting on others’ work should look and feel intuitive. Versioning should not scare people. Access control should be simple, yet powerful. Invoking and interacting with other tools should be right inside the primary interface and should blend in seamlessly. Exactly the kind of visual experience I got from the developer preview video of Google Wave. Throw in a cool API, an open protocol, a great platform for building extensions and a vibrant development community (hopefully) – you have a winner!
So far, I have spoken about the conventional usage of Wave. But, it can turn out to be much more than that. With a uber-cool collaboration interface, it can easily double up as a powerful social media. Can it be a Twitter killer? Can it replace Facebook? Is this the end of FriendFeed? Twitter is already teeming with speculations and creative thoughts.
The video itself is a self-sufficient introduction to the efficiency and effectiveness that could be achieved from Wave. So, I encourage readers to watch it in free time (about 1.5 hours). I would not go to the extreme and say this is path-breaking before actually using it. But, I am looking forward to using it once it comes out later in the year. I wish this was out when I was managing my IT capstone project last semester. It would have been one hell of a handy tool then!
The presentation by the Google team was engaging and it is evident that they had pulled in a lot of patchwork to bring this video on time for the Google I/O conference. That is their story for the external world. I suspect the real story is to make sure they share as much online-buzz as possible with another seemingly heavyweight introduction yesterday, Chandler…er…sorry…Bing
Bing’s introduction is gaseous enough to be termed a true Microsoft product launch and has enough buzzwords (decision engine, categorization, reviews etc) to pique my interest. Is it a google-killer? Not likely. But, if it does what it promises, it would sure lure a good bunch of people into trying it.
On a personal note, I am getting more and more annoyed that I haven’t had my hands dirty in Java or one of PHP/Perl/Python in a long long time. A lot of new things are happening around me where I can contribute real solid, which are based out of these technologies. I guess it is time for me to break out a little from the .NET playground and try out some new gimmicks