Google Shows No Vision by Killing The Wave

With the recent announcement that Google is stopping development and eventually shutting down Google Wave, Google might be doing more harm than good.

We have been posting, tweeting and talking about our love of the Google Wave product since they included it as an opt-in feature in Google Apps. While hard to describe, Google Wave has gone from being a quick curiosity to a daily productivity tool. Google has publicly said that they embrace their failures and learn from them but I think they are hurting the overall cloud computing movement by shutting down Wave, with little vision of foresight into the decision.

The Labs Excuse

The first thing that people point out is that Google Wave was a Labs experiment and that any company that took it too seriously or rolled it out to many users didn't do so wisely. I take issue with the term of "Labs" where most things are done in private and there is a big difference between adding a few features to Gmail and making them opt-in and making a huge splash with a new product and including it with Google Apps. If Google wants to do things in the labs, they should keep them in the labs and not announce them to the world in press releases and on stage for the world to evaluate. That is not what most scientist do with thier lab experiments.

Enterprise Pushback

Having worked in some large companies hand-in-hand with technology groups, I know what it is to have fought them about the difference between traditional IT and cloud computing. I argued about features, scalability, and ROI. They countered with conservative control and data security. Google has now given those old school IT arguments a bit more fuel to add to the fire. This is where large enterprise IT managers will point to a company that doesn't care about the effect on the end user. A company that will turn on and off features as it wants, when it wants, without any true roadmap or visibility. Those managers will point to Google shutting down the Wave and say, "See, I told you so. If we had started to roll that out to any significant amount of users, we would have to spend more time and money now replacing it and with no tools to recover the data."

They would be right.

Don't Be Evil

It is short-sighted for Google to shut down a product without providing a roadmap, without visibility into the numbers it sought to gain, or even try to monetize it using tools like Adsense.

In the end it shines a harsh light on the cloud computing industry and points out a very old addage, "You get what you pay for". Google likes to give a lot away for free, which is great, but it is a hard day when they come and take some of it back.

I would argue that goes against their self impossed motto of "Don't be evil".

To share your thoughts with me on twitter.com/JasonMAtwood

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