After much public and private debate over its actual utility, Google Wave, as you've probably already heard, is dead. Google posted a notice yesterday announcing that, due to a lack of public acceptance for the realtime collaboration platform, they are halting development. "We don't plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product," states Google, "but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects."
Very few people are surprised by this news, and Wave has been roundly criticized for being poorly executed. Many (including myself), however, are disappointed. One Mac developer, in particular, is saddened by this development.
Dirk Holtwick, author of a Wave client called Waveboard, got the news while on holiday this week. It goes without saying that a developer with commercial applications for Mac, iPhone and iPad which rely on Wave is disappointed by this announcement. Holwick shared with TUAW his own criticism of the "buggy first experience" that Wave provided most users, but also his admiration for technology that was "great, and ahead of its time." Read on for more.
The current incarnation of Waveboard is a wrapper around Google's web-based interface, with added features to make using Wave more familiar to Mac and iPhone users. Dirk tells us, though, that he had started the development of a native application for iPhone and iPad using the Google Wave API. He was given no hint by Google staff that development had been halted. "I [wish] they would give it a second chance," he says, "I have the feeling it would have a great future in the long term."
Personally, I had just begun to (finally) get people to start collaborating with me in Wave, but experienced the same immediate drop in excitement from friends and clients that seems to have been the common reaction. I believe it was a great idea, but I agree that the execution ended up requiring a good level of commitment on the part of users to make it work.
Google has assured users that, by the end of this year, all data collected in Wave will be made portable for "rescue." They've also hinted that many of the mish-mashed technologies found in Wave will appear in other Google applications, which we've already seen begin to happen in Google Docs. Other portions of the technology have been or will be open sourced.
My condolences to Dirk, and a melancholy "so long, it was good to know you" to Wave.