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The failure of Google wave – and the lessons

Harvard Business Review recently analyzed why Google  decided to shut down Wave just a year after its launch. In the view of HBR, the main reason was that Google was not able to figure out before hand if there would be a market for Wave. In this article, Google recived credits for having measurable criteria for killing projects.

In my view, the story should be extended by analyzing that even a brilliant company like Google sometimes stumbles over basic mistakes in rolling out product innovations:

  1. The positioning, alas the potential of the new technoogy never became clear to the pubIic. Some saw it as yet another tool for sharing content whereas others saw it as a collaboration tool, e.g. for project management while others saw it as a basis for private wikis. Wave had a lot of potential – but in the end it was “just potential”.
  2. Overloading users. When multiple users comment at the same time, you may receive five chats per second. In the end it results into a heap of chats which resembles more like a trash bin.
  3. Disappointing user expactations. Google mail and of course the Google search engine are  known for light design and fast loading capability. But Wave works the other way around. The ability to add applications and extensions significantly increase overall loading time of the waves.
  4. Bad roll-out management. Collaboration tools were DOA since Google decided to roll out one person at a time. So when you finally were invited it could well happen that you didn’t find anyone to collaborate with. Furthermore the rollout took way too long. After signing up you had to wait and wait and wait – and when you finally could log in, you probably had lost your interest.
  5. Poor integration with other service offerings. Why not add collaboration to Google mail or find a new compelling value-add for Google Docs integration?

And, by the way, if you are interested in which metrics companies use for measuring innovations please have a look in the CHART FOCUS section.