Google Wave: It’s the UI Stupid

Why we should congratulate Google on its failures


When Google Wave launched I read it was going to change email and it was what email would be if it was designed today. The concept seemed very solid – merge social networking and email together and make both better in the process. What’s not to like? But theory and reality are not always in alignment and as such I never understood how to use the service. Others wrote that companies in the conference space could leverage the service and it would help a great deal with communications. I sent this info to my expo team in marketing, design and web development and again, they didn’t get it. No one got it.

At least here at TMC. Funny, I thought it was just us.

Now Wave has been shuttered or as TMC’s Julia Kenny explains it – the service has entered a permanently low tide. Google has access to billions of eyeballs and could promote Wave however it liked and if it thought it was the future it could have literally shoved it down our throats – you know, like a hypothetical healthcare bill.

But kidding aside, I love Google when it fails as much as when it succeeds because it is in failure where we learn how to improve. What Google should learn from this lesson is if you can’t get your parents to understand your new service in a few minutes then its broken. To paraphrase some in politics, “It’s the UI stupid.” Look at Skype, Sonos and Apple iDevices as models of how to do things.

Some point to Google and to the potential cascading effect related to multiple failures being bad. Of course a failure cascade is bad but Google seems to be striking a solid balance of coming out with lots of innovation without tarnishing its image too much. I am in awe of any company with 20,000 employees which can still remain entrepreneurial and act like a start-up.

So Google, congratulations on your failure and remember, every failed launch gets you that much closer to a successful one.

Here is an excerpt from my last post on Google Wave which I wrote on May 28, 2009.

My view is that communications is continuing to evolve and this move is good for consumers – even if Wave fails and some of its concepts get rolled into other platforms.

According to TMC’s David Sims, it seems like that is exactly what is happening.

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  • laura w
    August 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    We all know that behavioral changes take time. The question is also – has innovation been focused in the right direction? perhaps many people are not ready for a mix of such applications and rather see them run independently, for specific scenarios. For a good example of that I recommend trying and

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