Google Wave Sunsetting… a cautionary tale?

Late last month I got an email from Google (see below) letting me know that Google Wave would be sunsetting as of January 31, 2012. I can image that people who signed up for Google Buzz got the same email as well.


With the first two of attempts at a social network by Google be a cautionary tale for me and everyone else going forward as with play, learn and explore with Google+… maybe.


Google does have a history of starting projects, releasing them into the wild and then pulling them back in after they see whether they’ll hold water or not. With Google+ I have to hope that the third time is the charm and while I think that they have gotten some things right by pulling from both Facebook — my favorite comment when Google+ came out was “Look Facebook’s white — and Diaspora with their use of circles for friend/privacy control as Drew Millikin points out in Why they’re not going to leave Facebook, no “other new social media too has a chance until the come up with something completely different”.


Brendan Schneider  (@schneiderb) also offers a series of reason why he believes “Google Plus is Dead” which parallels much of what Drew points out and on content, connections and features.


What does Google have this time around that should make me/you think differently?

  • User base – By making Google+ so easy to add to your existing Google account it’s simple enough to do. Problem is you have to get people to use it over Facebook.
  • The “+1” button and SEARCH – This is showing up more and more and in the battle for search results this is the first competitor to the “Like” button. The added bonus here is that because Google is “THE GOOGLE” and, for now, owns search, they can build this little button into their search algorithms and leverage that is was that Facebook currently can’t.
  • YouTube – If Google+ can leverage YouTube content, particularly in Google+ Pages, then I think they have another winner.  With YouTube’s library of video content the more they can marry these two together the better (maybe this will even help Picasa too).

In a recent Time Techland article (The Beginning of the End for Facebook?) Ben Bajarin (@benbajarin) pointed out this interesting piece on student’s use of Facebook:

“I recently polled almost 500 high school students in San Jose, and shockingly, not all of them were on Facebook. But perhaps not surprisingly, nearly all who were said they were basically bored with the site and had been using it significantly less.


Now, depending on how heavy of a technology user you are, you may find the idea of Facebook on its way out surprising or not surprising. For example, many of the young people I surveyed conveyed that they were ready for something else. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe that Facebook has either peaked or is on the cusp of peaking.”

Now if this is the case for Facebook, which is the biggest player in the space and, again as Dew Millikin points out, if Google+ isn’t doing anything different from what’s been already done, then why should we spend out time there.  Time will only tell, but… Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice shame on me. But who do I blame if I’m burned a third time?


Are you worried about getting burned? Why or why not…


====== GOOGLE WAVE EMAIL =======


Dear Wavers,


More than a year ago, we announced that Google Wave would no longer be developed as a separate product. At the time, we committed to maintaining the site at least through to the end of 2010. Today, we are sharing the specific dates for ending this maintenance period and shutting down Wave. As of January 31, 2012, all waves will be read-only, and the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012. You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.


If you would like to continue using Wave, there are a number of open source projects, including Apache Wave. There is also an open source project called Walkaround that includes an experimental feature that lets you import all your Waves from Google. This feature will also work until the Wave service is turned off on April 30, 2012.


For more details, please see our help center.


Yours sincerely,

The Wave Team




William Stites

Director of Technology at Montclair Kimberley Academy

Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy (, "Blogger in Chief" for, consultant for Educational Collaborators, husband and father of two crazy boys. All that and still trying to find time to write and share as much as I can with you here and at