Google Wave Redefines The Rules

If you were completely disconnected from the internet yesterday, you did not hear that Google announced a new product/platform called Wave. According to various quotes, they wanted to create a product as if email was invented today. I call bullshit. Even on their blog they say that it is more than just email:

Google Wave is a new communication and collaboration tool that lets people work together more productively online.

Does that sounds like a fancy email client? No, I do not think so. Google Wave is much bigger than email. Google owns search, but they have been making strides in various areas. GMail was a very good incremental improvement, but Google knows you need to be disruptive to really own something. So, they decided to revamp the email interface, make the interface extendible and automatable, and create a whole new protocol. And to make things even more disruptive, the protocol is completely open, so anyone can create a wave server of their very own. Not only did they try to eliminate existing email clients, they want to become the dominant form of electronic communication. SMTP, XMPP and any microblogging APIs are nice, but they have just tried to unify everything under one specification.

What is more interesting is that they have based the wave protocol on XMPP, and this is really just an extension of XMPP core. By doing this, they can leverage the existing infrastructure of XMPP servers. With the extension model they have defined, there can also be simple bridges between Wave and SMTP, core XMPP, Twitter, Facebook and any other near real-time specification.

Obviously, with this release, Google shows how much they were worried about the real-time web. If it is not clear to you yet, Google just showed us the first integrated real time communications client. This is not a Twitter killer, it is a communication enabler. The teams that really need to worry are Seesmic Desktop, Tweetdeck and PeopleBrowsr. They all started as Twitter clients and are working their way out to other platforms like Facebook. Google showed that they even have a small Twitter widget ready. They also showed collaboration widgets and gaming widgets. Much of the functionality talked about with Wave is currently bolted onto Twitter which is why third party services like TwitPic and others also need to worry. There will now be a mad rush to see how many products can be released with Google Wave support.

Google Wave just redefined the rules. Let’s see who can play the new game.

16 thoughts on “Google Wave Redefines The Rules

  1. Andy,

    One thing at a time, I just figured out there were new rules 🙂 Also, your question is probably a good blog post by itself.

    FriendFeed can likely integrate quickly and would need to given that they are not typically the source protocol. Twitter and Facebook are source protocols, so they probably do not need to. Otherwise, I need to think on it for a while.

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  2. Rob, you and I did think similarly about this. Google has just set an entire new standard for communication on the web. If it gets adopted it will be very disruptive. BTW I think it will liekly also disrupt Twitter, Fascebook and Friendfeed type of services, as these rely on destinations.

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  3. I think twine is much more prepared. once the site will be working in at least 80 percent, it will be evident that friendfeed and popego are way behind, Even today twine is better than friend feed, but since it is prepared for being used with complex features in the future, the interface makes it harder for users to deal with, which prevents its sales for many people.

    By the way which networks do you know similar to friendf, twine or popego?
    txs
    M
    makes people

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  4. Alexander,

    One thing that may be in trouble is Microsoft Sharepoint. I am not sure the effect this has on the destinations as developers would need to be careful with the complexity of the user interfaces.

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  5. Mariana

    I am not very familiar with popego, so I can’t really comment on them. Twine is in an interesting position on this one. They could benefit from integration and they are growing rapidly already. However, I see them as a very different service from FriendFeed.

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  6. […] Rob Diana suggests this isn’t a Twitter killer. And on the one hand he’s right. Why, Twitter is directly supported as input and output in a Wave conversation already. On the other hand, Twitter doesn’t seem much on the idea of “federations” – they’re already missing out on the potential to interconnect (and lead) the federation of OpenMicroBlogging sites (like ident.ca, TWiTArmy, and so on) Rob also suggests that the companies that need to worry about the Wave, are indeed the companies that develop Twitter clients, like Seesmic Desktop, Tweetdeck, and PeopleBrowsr (which I happen to work for). I think he’s right. These companies need to worry, or embrace the idea, and figure out how they can participate, and add value to the Wave, and the conversations that happen in waves. I’m not sure if all these companies can do that. The federations that Google promotes are likely the salvation of these companies. However, The more Twitter dependentthey are, the more likely they won’t survive this type of change in the marketplace. […]

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  7. Of all the three I think that FriendFeed has the most to gain out of this move by Google. It’s already geared toward multimedia sharing, and threading conversations. All FriendFeed has to do is begin supporting waves, and they’ll take off.

    Facebook could do the same, but seems unlikely to do so.

    Twitter, on the other hand is destined to being a bit part in this game – a tiny wavelet that may for a time serve an important part, but is likely to be outclassed by other providers like FriendFeed and the OMB federation.

    Microsoft should be (and did) running to the bank! They Desperately need to start on an acquisition spree to get back into a competitive stance. They’ve banked a lot on things like sharepoint (a direct casualty of wave) and their operating systems (which continue to lose market share year after year). They need to rethink their strategy, and get control of their now too diverse product offerings. I continue in my belief that Microsoft would have a much brighter future as a media company, if they would just forget about Windows (and everything that goes along with it)

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  8. Google wave scares the hell out of me.
    The reason is quite simple: at the moment, google pretty much “owns” all web traffic:
    the majority of all search queries are done at google.
    many pages have got google-analytics, so they can keep track on where people go.

    What they havent got so far is control over email and IM.
    In its current form they would never get full control over that, that is where google wave comes in.
    When people start moving over to google wave, google will get almost 100% control over all internet communication(!).

    All this “dont be evil” crap aside; this is a big brother system that tany countrys government would love to get in on, and I would be suprrised if the US not already tapped into it.

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  9. Arnold,

    Google does own a lot, and that should cause concern. However, the wave protocol is open so if you wanted to run something based on wave, you could create it (or Yahoo could for that matter). Technically, the idea is similar to how mail (or SMTP) works, so they will not see your traffic if you do not mail someone @gmail or use gmail itself.

    Regarding the big brother idea, this does not change anything. If a government wants to tap all traffic through the country they will do it. Wave is no different than SMTP in that sense. It is a spec only, not a full control thing.

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  10. I can see that people just aren’t going to understand that this is a protocol, much like email. While Google may find itself a leading provider of wave services, it will by no means be the only one.

    Arnold, are you scared to use gmail? Google has a huge offering in that product, but they sure don’t control the market.

    This is far from a play for google to take over email and IM. If it was they wouldn’t be publicly releasing the protocol as a standard, and providing the source code to us so we can build our own.

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  11. Regarding Gmail; there is no chance that google ever would get control over the majority of email traffic, hence it was never a threat to communication.

    sure, the wave protocol is open, if it was not open, they would not have a chance to gain majority of the traffic, to believe that we are going to have a zillion alternatives (i.e. analog to mail) is not realistic:
    there are going to be some major players (google, yahoo, ms, apple, etc) but in end effect google is going to have the majority of all users:
    they are the ones that have the means to drive the most user friendly alternative, and hence it will drive people there.
    I.e. analog to anyone that attend to get an email address
    “hm, should i get an email address at my provider with 5 Mb limit and no web access, or should i get Gmail?”

    if google did NOT provide it as an open protocol, it would never gain a huge popularity, to provide it open is just a means to make it popular so we get a new market where google already are lightyears ahead of the competitors.

    the “we are not evil” slogan is something people keep on believing, because google (analog to apple) refuse to comment anything negative, which keeps negative stories on a low because the news-value is not high when there is only one part of the story (i.e. the story sounds like hearsay).
    Apple has a similar image, “it is safe, no viruses, no security problems”, simply because they refuse to make any statements regarding their security issues, and hence there will be no press about it.

    Dont get me wrong here; google makes nice products, as well as apple (i am an apple user myself), but i think both are evil in their arrogant ways, and i do not believe in the google “we are not evil” way, i think it might started out as something they believed in but then the company got too big. There are numerous examples where they run over the majority of people by doing stuff that the majority do not want, e.g. street view where 85% of all people are recognizable (sorry, at its best it manage to blur the face of someone a bit, but if you know that person he is still recognizable)

    Suddenly Microsoft shines like a “good guy” in comparision; they are having a more open conversation over their goals and problems.

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  12. Arnold, I can agre with most of everything you say here except this:

    “to believe that we are going to have a zillion alternatives (i.e. analog to mail) is not realistic:
    there are going to be some major players (google, yahoo, ms, apple, etc) but in end effect google is going to have the majority of all users:”

    Personally I see that at least medium to large size companies are likely to roll out their own internal wave servers. They aren’t going to want all of their corporate communications to go onto public servers (like Google’s) and yet they’re going to want the real time communications that a wave offers.

    Google will likely gain the lion’s share of individual wave accounts, but I definitely see that there will be plenty of people who don’t care to have Google run their personal communications, and will choose smaller providers. It will take time, but I think that this is likely to be as ubiquitous as email. Once people understand that they can have the real time communications that the wave offers, they won’t want to go back.

    (oh and as regards Street View: They are only showing things that you would have seen if you drove down the street at the same time. I don’t see where the harm is in that. – I find far more potential for harm coming from law enforcement cameras everywhere than Google taking pictures of the outside of buildings and streets)

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