On May 28th, tech circles went wild when Google revealed Google Wave at its Google I/O conference. The response to and the questions about the new communication platform were staggering. Is it something I should use? Is it a game-changer? Could it kill email itself?
This type of lofty rhetoric will always raise hopes and draw scrutiny. We want to believe that new and radical technologies like Wave will change the very way we live. And while our experiments with Wave have brought us to the conclusion that this platform may indeed be a game changer, it won’t happen if there isn’t widespread adoption. So instead of asking whether Wave will kill email, the better question to ask is this: Is the world ready for Wave-based communication?
I have used Wave extensively since the sandbox preview became available, and I will tell you this: it breaks normal conversation conventions left and right. While it looks and feels like email in many ways, its unique hybrid of realtime and message-based communication takes some getting used to. Using applications in-wave, editing other people’s messages, and integrating robots into your conversations are going to confuse and even scare people.
We know that the early adopters will use this (and forgive its flaws) in a heartbeat. The real question is whether or not its new approach to communication is a dealbreaker for the early majority and late adopters of the world.