Saturday, October 24, 2009

Google wave is a failure

Google wave has created a lot of frenzy lately. It has people begging for accounts and people who have invites selling them at e-bay. Deja-Vu! Gmail reloaded? Remember when everybody went crazy for the invitations and a lot of them were sold on ebay at that time. Google kept the supply scarce to drive this even more, tapping on a very basic instinct of human nature: elitism. "Oh_my_god_you_have_gmail" was like Harry potter's forehead scar and people loved to flaunt it. Google wave's launch have been similar. But there is a difference between Gmail and Wave.

Gmail was/is an awesome product and path breaking in many ways. Google provided 1GB storage when yahoo gave 4MB! Not only that, compared to Yahoo's interface Gmail was light-years ahead. It did what every great design does i.e. get out of the way and let them do what they want to. Gmail had features which people needed and they used the right technology to deliver it. It was first free ajaxified email client(a major one at least) and allowed people to do everything without reloading the page.

Wave, on the other hand, is almost obnoxious. It is as if Google is trying very hard to show off what it can do instead of delivering what people need/want. For instance, that live typing thing. I hate that feature. It is like the unix "talk" on console back in college and I hated it back then too. I do not want people to see what I am typing. I write angry things sometimes which I never send and therefore I do not want people to read what I type. I have talked to people about it and everybody feels that real time typing is just overkill. If you think about it e-mails allow people to speak freely without the fear of others stepping on your feet. It also allows you to think about what you want to convey, double/triple check what you are sending, check facts etc. Google wave just kills all this in one go!

I am sure Google engineers/product managers know that but they are too obsessed with the technology to kill this feature. Or may be they do not realize it. That is a bigger problem which means they do not understand the domain problem well and do not know what problem they intend to solve.

Even if Google gives and option to switch it off, I do not think Wave is going anywhere in this avatar. Wave UI sucks: It is unintuitive, slow and generally not well thought out. So even if they give an option to switch off the instant typing thing, this is not so easy to fix. For instance, if there is a long wave and there are to new waves at different ends of the conversation, I do not know how to find them. The enter key doesn't work as expected. There are so many "unsynced waves" notification. I can go on and on and on.

8 comments:

Anjay said...

Hi!

Nice read. I have issues with the live typing too. When I chat I usually type something, rephrase and then send. Now GWave expects us to frame all our thoughts in our minds.

And I still don't get what is so special about Wave. May be I am lagging in technology. But somehow I couldn't spot something revolutionary.

Akshay S Dinesh said...

Hi...
I read almost every post of yours about google back fromm 2004 or 5 in the last half an hour...

and throughout you had been great in understanding google...

But this time, i have to disagree...

Google wave is for online collaboration... ie, two or more people working together, discussing on the same thing and may be writing a draft, editing it, proofreading it and finalizing it...

And THAT requires instant typing very very necessarily... Because if there's no instant typing it can cause edit conflicts, where you edit parts of a sentence and your partner deletes the same sentence simultaneously (thus when saving the one who saves last only remains)

So subtracting instant typing would make wave like wikipedia...

And wave is never for one on one chatting, it is for collaboration...
"Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration"

And it's still in beta... It does too much for a beta product

Piyush said...

Akshay,
first of thanks for reading my blog! Never thought anybody reads it!

Instant typing is a feature, IMHO, which has no use case. We do not work like that. Everybody I know has got issues with it. It just doesn't feel natural. I do go over my documents over and over again before sending them. I would never want anybody to observe what I am typing. It is too intrusive. Believe me, from a engineering standpoint this functionality is very difficult to provide in a webapp and it is a feat of engineering. However, I guess it is like solving a problem which doesn't exists and hence product suffers

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Tantra said...

certainly a failure..!! just another tryout by google!! what its best in..

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jawahar said...

You are right Piyush. I think google is now planning for another one, 'Google Me'