Will Google Wave Shape the Future of Online Communication?

    November 6, 2009
    Chris Crum

To be clear, I don’t consider myself an expert on Google Wave by any stretch of the imagination, but based on what I have learned about it, these are my responses to frequently asked Google Wave questions. These are just my opinions.

We’d love to hear your opinions about Google Wave. Share them here.

Will Google Wave replace email?

No. It may replace email in the same way that social networks already have. Social networks have not replaced email in general. They have, however replaced it in some cases for some people. For example, friends may send each other a quick note via Facebook message rather than email. However, chances are one of those friends was emailed by Facebook alerting them that they had a new message. For more reasons on why social media (and I include Wave in this) won’t replace email, read this article.

Will Google Wave catch on with the general public?

Obviously, it’s incredibly early to tell if Google Wave will catch on on a massive scale. For that matter, what does "catching on" really mean? Does it mean to the extent of email? To the extent of Facebook? Twitter? There are pretty wide gaps between these. Will it catch on to the extent of RSS? Who knows. If you want my honest opinion, I don’t think it will achieve Facebook-like status. I’m not sure that it will achieve Twitter-like status either, which is just a fraction of what Facebook has.

If Compete’s numbers for the US are any indication, Gmail doesn’t even come close to attracting the unique users that Twitter does anymore. I have a hard time accepting that Google Wave will be bigger than Gmail (though it’s certainly possible). 

Will Google Wave catch on in the workplace?

If Google Wave catches on anywhere, I think it could catch on in the workplace. Lots of companies are using Google Apps, and now that Google is marketing that aggressively, that is likely going to increase big time. With the right promotion and integration, I could easily see Google Wave working its way into the mix there. The very collaborative nature of Google Wave caters to work-related use.

At this point, Google Wave is in its very early stages, and over the coming months and probably years, we are going to continue to see improvements and innovations made with it. Will that translate into widespread adoption? I’m not so sure.

I think people are going to have a hard time figuring out why they should be using it. I also think people are getting tired of having more accounts to keep up with (although this would be connected to your Google account).

If Wave brings all of their contacts and socializing into one central hub, it’s going to have some competition. Mozilla is already working on Raindrop, which sounds like a pretty useful tool. There will be others.

On the other hand, it could go the Twitter route, where people will struggle to "get it" for a long time, and slowly start finding uses that suit them. That "ah-ha moment" hasn’t come for everybody that’s used Twitter yet either, but there’s no denying that service has made its mark on popular culture.

I don’t want to sound anti-Wave here. It seems cool and potentially useful. Worst case scenario, it is just another tool that you can use if you want, which may or may not make your life (and work) easier. Best case (for Google at least), it becomes like email (or to a lesser extent Facebook) in the sense that it is practically unavoidable to use because everyone you know uses it and if you don’t you will be out of the loop. At this point, I’m just leaning toward the former.

Do you think Google Wave is going to change the world or do you think it’s being over-hyped? Discuss here.

Related Articles:

Google Wave Simplified: How it Basically Works

Mozilla Aims to Integrate Social Media and Email into One Inbox

Google Gets Serious About Marketing Apps