10 concerns with Google Wave

Posted: 2009-09-30

I'm a longtime Google lover and am just as excited about Wave as everybody else; ever since the release of Gmail i've been wondering why Google doesn't do something exactly like this. That being said, i'd like to bring up ten short, sweet, and to-the-point concerns i've been wondering about that are worth some consideration. Please forgive me in advance if i'm speaking too soon; i'm still waiting for an invitation of my own. 

Wave is advanced, but will users be able to grasp it fully? Even email is confusing to some people. Google usually does an amazing job at designing user interfaces, but i wonder if Wave will feel heavy due simply to its complexity.

Overall Stability
Google Wave, the client, seems to still be buggy and slow according to many people. I'm sure they will work it all out, but if it's this hard for Google to implement their own protocol, that might be saying something about the future of it.

Desktop Application
When will someone create a desktop client? I hope they haven't made it too hard to do so.

Social Networking
Many people say it will be the Facebook/Twitter killer, but let's keep in mind that, just like email, Google Wave is a communication platform which makes it a very closed network. Is it possible for Wave to replace the functionality of social networking sites that require information such as groups to be much more publicly accessible? Perhaps it is possible through applications, which might be a better model anyways.

Instant Messaging
Wave is a much better communication method than email and IM because of both it's structure and instant character-by-character transmission, but how will that affect other networks like Jabber (XMPP) which is used for Google Talk? Will applications like Pidgin and Empathy be able to implement some sort of IM-only Wave protocol support, or will other networks be able to integrate well into Wave?

Multimedia Content
Text is wonderful, but much of our communication is shifting towards audio and video calls online, and although there are Google Wave applications that support it, it doesn't look like Wave itself will handle it in and special way.

Has it been considered? I'd like to know now that spam won't end up being worse on Wave than email. Although it is more difficult to spam wave currently, in the future those technical obstacles may have been overcome, and the problem could be worse than today.

Email today is used for ID on almost all websites. How are contact ID's managed? Google has been playing with tools like OpenID, OAuth, and WebFinger; will those be incorporated into Wave?

Data Portability
This is less of a concern for two reasons. One because Google's Data Liberation Front seems appropriately considerate of us being in control of our own information, and two because if the next and last concern is a problem, it might far overshadow this one.

Google Wave is much more advanced than email, and that complexity makes it harder to implement. This might drive power upwards, and be very anti-competitive. We could be limited to a few Wave providers, and we might all just have to use Google for the applications they have.

"It's a strange irony that today's Google Wave news was followed by a real Tsunami. I'm hoping Google never releases Armageddon."
--Some Twitterer

Still, email is out of date, and i hope that all of these concerns will soon enough be crossed off and Wave will successfully take over as the next generation of online communication. Are you ready to surf the web on waves? Sorry, i had to.