Google Wave might have been Google+ 1.0


There has been a lot of controversy this week around the inclusion of Google+ content in Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) search results. Whether you agree with this approach or not, it got me thinking about just how pervasive Google is making Google+ in the Google services ecosystem and just how much it might be fulfilling the vision of the now defunct Google Wave.

As you may recall, Google Wave was launched to much fanfare in May 2009. Content geeks everywhere waxed poetically about its potential as an all-encompassing communications platform, which you could even embed in a website absent the client. What was not to like?

I even went so far in my 2010 predictions to predict big things for Google Wave.

I couldn't have been more wrong because by August, Google Wave was history. As Dan Keldsen said in an interview at the time, it was undone by a number of factors including an interface he said, the Google Wave team referred to as an experiment, a throw-away. And looking back, that appears to be the case.

And as 2010 closed, Google Wave was open sourced and delivered to the Apache Foundation.

And the story might have ended there, but it didn't. Instead Google launched Google+ in late June last year and with it, seemed to move beyond the experiment that was Google Wave into an engaging social interface.

While it wasn't everything Google Wave had been, it had enough of the best elements of a unified communications platform to be much more useful. The use of Circles helped provide a way to filter content based on how you manage your friends and followers.

It also integrates nicely across services. You can see how many reactions you have to your Google+ activity regardless of whether you're in GMail, Google Reader or Google Docs and you can even share links and status updates across these different sites without explicitly opening the Google+ client to do it.

Hangouts provide a way for multiple people to talk in a semi-private chat-style room complete with voice and video.

It doesn't appear to be as open and extensible as Wave was, but Google must have known it had to simplify to get this to work well out of the gate, but like Google Wave, it's clearly still very much a work in progress.

In a sense, it shares a lot with its Google Wave forebear, which now appears to be as Keldsen pointed out, a first draft for what would be Google+.

While I would still like to see the ability to embed conversations from Google+ into a website, to incorporate all comments on a post to include the ones on the site itself and the ones offsite on Google+, this may be something that comes further down the road.

For now, judging from the hue and cry about incorporating Google+ into search results, I'm guessing there would be a similar backlash if Google made Google+ portable in this fashion.

However Google+ evolves, though, Google developed Google Wave to see what was possible and built Google+ to be a social tool for everyone--not just a few content management geeks like me.

And that's precisely why it's proving to be so much more successful than Google Wave ever was, even if the two systems seem to share some of the same DNA. - Ron