Google makes Wave collaboration tool available

Some had feared that the hosted collaboration 'Swiss Army knife' would never evolve beyond a buzz-worthy early-stage product

Google will make its Wave collaboration and communication tool available to anyone who wants to try it out on Wednesday at its I/O developer conference.

The announcement should dispel conjecture that Wave, which generated a lot of buzz when it was unveiled as an early-stage product at last year's I/O, would never be released widely but rather have its technology carved up and implanted in other products.

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Wave, a hosted collaboration Swiss Army knife of sorts that combines email, IM, document sharing, blogs, wikis, and multimedia management, saw the initial excitement over its release slowly fade, as access to it remained limited.

At some point, some people began to wonder whether Wave would remain an actual product, arguing that its use cases were not evident and that it could potentially cannibalize usage for existing Google products, like Gmail and Docs.

That doomsday scenario seems far away now, although Google is still sending the message that the product isn't in final form by putting a Labs label on it, which gives Google the freedom to radically modify it going forward or even pull it off the market entirely.

Google is hoping that users and developers who gave Wave a try early on and moved on will now take another look at it because the product is more stable, its feature-set more complete and its APIs more solid, according to the company.

In addition to individuals, businesses that use the Google Apps hosted collaboration and communication suite can now turn Wave on for users in their domains, Google said.

At I/O, Google also announced the Chrome Web store, a marketplace that will open later this year where developers can hawk their wares and end users can look for applications. Users will be able to add shortcuts to their Chrome browser to applications bought at the store, while developers will be able to sell their applications on the site with Google taking care of transactions.

Other I/O news included WebM, a project Google is launching with other vendors to push what they describe as an open media file format that is intended for the Web and is free of royalties.

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