Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rise of a new Google Wave?

(Image Credit: GoogleBlog)

Rise of a New Wave?

First there was the plain telephone call, the conventional note taking on paper, and then the writing of letters, envelope, stamps, saliva and all. Then comes computers which allow people to post information on bulletin boards. Using applications that run listservs, people can retrieve information by sending specific commands. Text-based information can be obtained when one has the right address and system. With the internet and graphical interface, communications improve with multimedia capabilities. Emails have to co-exist with increasingly cool social networking media like Facebook and Twitter. Embedding features within features fast become a norm. You can find chat applications from within many web-based programs. One can also attach videos, MP3s, photos alongside plain vanilla text or rich text documents, from inside any modern web interfaces. Just when we think we have enough of such integration, look at the next wave. What happens when you try to combine traditional email, regular chatrooms, multimedia rich interface, embedded social networking tools, and real-time communications into one platform?
Google thinks that they have found the answer in WAVE. (Thanks to Matt Jones for pointing this out in his Facebook notes)

What is Google Wave?
It is a clever play of words. When people ask what is the ‘next wave’ in technology, Google will get the mindshare again with its new soon-to-be-launched web platform. What is Wave?

Technically, it is mainly a web-based application. The idea is that it taps all possible Internet communications currently available and presents them within one platform. If finely integrated, it presents a very convenient way for users to do real time communications. Rather than opening multiple programs or logging into different communications accounts, it is a compelling advantage to have all in one application 'shell'.

However, I still have some reservations. In terms of monopoly, I feel that they (Google) is trying to do for the web-based communications, what Microsoft tried to do previously for the PC. Remember how Microsoft ‘embeds’ many other things into their Windows hegemony like including Internet Explorer (killing Netscape), various Norton-utilities-like programs (ruining PCTools and Symantec), integrating MS Office tightly with Windows (messing up other Office offerings) and others? Google is aiming to monopolize the Internet communications platform just like the way they are dominating the search engine industry. I understand that Google has been trying to break into the runaway success of Facebook and Twitter, and WAVE is one specific response to Facebook.

What are the implications of Wave? I am not sure yet, but I will be keen to hear from those of you who are technology savvy. I have signed up for the early preview here. Until then, it will be beneficial to think through the implications in terms of our way of work when such an initiative takes off.

Read more about Google Wave from the Google blog here, or here and here.


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