Google Wave is an ambitious project from Google which allows true real-time communications by integrating chat, email, a wiki, social networking tools and more. In many ways it competes with other services such as Facebook and as such it really isn't that new. Still, it does seem slicker and it is more open than many other services which provide communications solutions (a promotional plug -- you may want to check out TMCnet's newest news-driven Global Online Community called Communications Solutions). It also allows real-time IM sessions meaning you can see what the other person is typing before they hit enter.
Some think the company is being arrogant with this launch because as usual they seem to think about products first and profits second. Others think the breadth of features included in Wave could mean that Gmail and Docs are history.
My thoughts are that Google has done a poor job in the social networking space to date and initiatives like Google Voice haven't blown us away. Gmail of course is a solid product and took share from Yahoo and Microsoft and allowed Google to show targeted ads to millions of users while they viewed their email.
So from where I stand, if Wave becomes successful and is somehow integrated into the Google product family, it could indeed give a Google-sized boost to the bottom line because you can bet that your communications will have embedded ads which are selected based on the keywords you use in the communications.
Google still owns the world's largest ad network and subsequently has relationships with more global advertisers than any other company. This means they have all the incentive in the world to make Google Wave a very popular service and even if the new offering achieves a few percent penetration, it will offer millions and millions of new page views for advertiser monetization.
One last point - the timing of this product is especially curious as it seems to put Google more in the space occupied by Microsoft at a time when the operating system leader is focusing more on search and will launch a new marketing campaign to push it. Moreover it reminds me a bit of the Palm Pre in the way it integrates various services and is open... And the Pre should roll out next week.
Finally, today - it was announced that AOL will be spun out of Time Warner and to me AOL was the original service which allowed real-time communications between its members. Now it is a shadow of its former self.
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.