My last post here was all about how software vendors and online franchises can integrate with Google Wave in their web applications. This previous blog entry wrote up the research results from our participation in the semi-private beta of Wave which is what Google called the sandbox. We have also planned a new release of Code Roller that integrates with Google Wave.
As a prelude to this new release of Code Roller, we deployed a new release of Cogenuity that integrates with Google Wave. This time, the integration was with what Google calls the preview which is different than the sandbox. In the sandbox edition, you are by yourself and are just testing the basic functionality. In the preview edition of Google Wave, you can truly collaborate with others.
For the purposes of clarifying a common misconception about this preview edition, permit me a momentary aside. There has been much buzz in the blogosphere about Google Wave invites. At the end of September, Google sent out 100,000 invitations to the preview edition. Each of those invitees got to nominate 8 other people. The popular press has blurred the original invitations with this nomination process. There is no guarantee that someone who has been nominated will get an invitation; however, all of the people that I nominated did eventually receive invitations. You just have to be patient.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. The Cogenuity integration with Google Wave preview edition revealed some subtle yet potentially frustrating gotchas or difficulties in the end user experience. Cogenuity is a collective social intelligence platform where groups of contenders proffer solutions to a challenge issued by a promoter. While using Cogenuity with certain browsers and operating systems, access to the embedded wave would be inappropriately denied. I suspect that the problem was in the subtle differences that the various web browsers implement cookies.
There is a long history in the web where browser vendors release a web oriented technology whose best end user experience occurs in their own web browser. Microsoft Internet Explorer had its ActiveX. Mozilla Firefox had its XUL. I have no idea if this is Google’s intention but, for right now, Google Wave works best in their own Chrome browser. It doesn’t work at all in Internet Explorer and your results may vary when using either FireFox or Safari. Is Google intending to leverage Wave in order to increase the market share for Chrome? Perhaps it is unfair for me to hold Google accountable for web browsers that they are not responsible for.
I recently read a pretty interesting piece entitled Google Enterprise Strategy Starts with Google Wave which is about how Google is going to go after the enterprise market in 2010. I have always believed that Wave is targeting enterprise collaboration much more than consumers. The more popular media seems to confuse these two markets but I see them as quite distinct even though the same people are in both.
There is one thing that both enterprise knowledge workers and entertainment seeking consumers do have in common. They both demand an IJW UX or It Just Works User eXperience. People don’t want to break their flow in order to tweak the options of their browser or to download and install a complicated plugin. Such complex and technical procedures could result in a lot of abandonment.
Google Wave has a lot of potential and holds a lot of promise for enterprise collaboration. It remains to be seen whether or not they can deliver on this promise or stay focused on the task of delivering solid value for the enterprise while avoiding the sirens of web browser market share.