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Google Wave is cool enough, but is it useful?

by Philip Sellers

Its been a few weeks and I now have a few friends populated in Google Wave.  When I first received my invite, it was me, myself and I – ok, that’s just one person – on Wave.  I had to turn to the in:public search option to find any waves to try out the service.

My friends and I have created a few waves and now that the novelty has worn off, I’m left with the question of where this fits?  Its not instant messaging, per say, and it is more collaborative, but I’ve found it frustrating (perhaps because of a lack of friends on Wave) to try and carry on a conversation with someone in Wave.

But, I recall being the same way with GMail when I first got access to its beta program.   Early on, I despised the conversation view I now love in GMail and I couldn’t understand why Google would launch a new chat – as if I needed another one.  But those things quickly became assets to the platform that Google was building.

Wave is largely a re-think platform.  It is exciting that it can be extended and built upon to bring new tools to the table.  The playback feature is a good one that allows for all the communication to happen on the server and be stored there.  It is a convergence for email and instant message.

What is great about the hosted message platform is it removes the need for transport – the biggest problem facing email today.  I think that moving forward, a hosted conversation may be a much better way of communicating, but at this point – its only hosted by a single provider.  The beauty of email is that everyone can host their own or outsource their email server.  And if one goes down, the rest of the system survives.  Its architecture is distinctly different than Wave.

But Wave offers the opportunity to define a secure and verified transport between Wave providers.  Google seems to be supporting this to become an open standard for the world to use – not a closed system which Google controls.

And while discussing transport, regulation has become a major issue facing email today.  From HIPPA to SOX, government regulation now dictates how information can be disseminated.  A newly architected platform over secure connections could provide a much needed alternative to the largely insecure email used today.

So there is a lot about the system which offers promise, but it is different animal all together.  I can see how this could converge into Google Docs and offer similar collaboration that word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents offer in that silo.    I can also see how this could neatly fit as a secure email replacement.  I’m interested to see what other think or envision for Wave.

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