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Google Wave: Wave goodbye

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(Read caption) Google Wave will be maintained at least until the end of the year, Google said today. After that, the service is likely to be kaput.

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Google Wave, a communication and collaboration tool released late last fall, was originally billed as "what email would look like if it were designed today." Wave incorporated aspects of e-mail, file-sharing systems, collaborative encyclopedias, and social networking platforms such as Facebook, and was greeted with enthusiasm in the tech press – although certain users (including us) were puzzled about how exactly to use the thing.

But this week, Google announced it would pull the plug on Google Wave, just short of a year after the thing hit the market. Google says it will keep the Wave platform live until at least the end of the year, and use some of the technology from Wave on other products. In a statement, Urs Hölzle, a senior VP at Google, sought to play up the parts of the Google Wave experiment that succeeded.

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"The use cases we’ve seen show the power of this technology: sharing images and other media in real time; improving spell-checking by understanding not just an individual word, but also the context of each word; and enabling third-party developers to build new tools like consumer gadgets for travel, or robots to check code," Hölzle wrote.

Still, he added, "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked." The demise of Google Wave, of course, is not the first high-profile flop for Google in the last year.

Last month, for instance, Google announced it would cease Nexus One sales in the US, but promised that customer support for existing Nexus One owners would remain in place. In addition, Google said Vodafone in the UK and KT in Korea would continue to sell Nexus One handsets – and hinted that other carriers might also get in on the act, depending on "local market conditions."

Before that, Google faced a chorus of jeers after the release of Google Buzz, a new social media platform integrated into Gmail. Many critics worried that the "Autofollow" setting on Google Buzz endangered users' privacy; others just didn't like the interface. Google responded to the concerns, but Buzz is generally considered to have not quite lived up to the early hype from Google HQ.

Will you miss wave? Let us know in the comments.


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