What it was: What wasn’t it? It was a hybrid of e-mail, instant messaging, workgroup collaboration, photo editing, and much more, without bearing much resemblance to any existing service in any of those categories. Google Kitchen Sink would have been at least as apt a name as Wave.
Announced: May 28th, 2009, but it didn’t open to the public until May 19th, 2010.
What they said when it was new: “Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?”—Google’s Lars Rasmussen, co-inventor of Wave.
Died: August 4th, 2010.
What they said when they killed it: “…Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects.”
Why it really failed: I’m still not entirely sure, other than that Google has been willing to terminate some big projects in recent years. And perhaps the company was genuinely taken aback by the near-universal consensus that Wave was extremely confusing.
Was it a tragedy it bit the big one? I think it was awfully sad. There was simply no way that two and a half months of public availability could have been enough time for something as radically different as Wave to find acceptance. If Wave had been a classic Microsoft project, it would have gotten a 2.0—and a 3.0 that was so much better that it would have had a shot at success.
The aftermath: The Apache project adopted Wave, so you could argue that it’s not technically deceased. But it’s been “incubating” for an awfully long time now.
Next Microsoft Kin (2010)