The Death of Google Wave: Not A Clear Business Problem

Today Google announced they would be stopping development of Google Wave. I am very sad to see Google Wave die. I really thought they would continue to improve it and it was a platform of the future. In talking to a few people, many of them could never get into it because they never had a real network of people to work with something on. I had that problem at first but once I found a few projects I needed to easily collaborate on with people, my Wave life took shape. Now, just as I am figuring out how to use with some real use cases, it's execution has been announced.

I was reading the blog post by Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Operations & Google Fellow, and he was talking about the numerous things people were doing with the platform. In my last post I talked about the 7 Lessons Learned From My First Startup. The second lesson was be very clear about the business problem you are solving. It really feels like this was Wave's undoing.

When you don't do this you end up creating a swiss army knife. When you create a product without a clear problem you are solving, you build a product that kind of does a ton of things but not one really well. That makes it very difficult to communicate the value to people so they will adopt it and build a community around it. What you want to build is a meat cleaver. A knife built for one singular purpose. It can do a bunch of other stuff, but what you tell the world is how it solves your problem of cutting big hunks of meat.

It seemed that they wanted to put something out there with the hope that the community just made it work. Given how much development needed to still happen to make it ready for prime-time, they should have let people do what ever they wanted but really make a few use cases an amazing experience. The cause of death seems to be by self inflicted Swiss Army knife. If Google was going to kill something they should have shot Google Buzz instead.