Is Anyone Riding the Google Wave?

As excited as I was about Google Wave, right out of the gate, I’m still scratching my head wondering exactly what it’ll do for me in the long run. Yes, I can see how it might help collaborative projects, which is fine. But there are a few glaring issues that—even though the product is in Beta stage—have been keeping me from actually using it.

No Gmail integration. There’s no easy gmail integration to speak of. There’s not even an easy way to invite people who are already your contacts in Gmail. This makes adding new people rather tedious, especially for a Google product.

Slow speeds in many respects. Everything moves very slowly. Sure, I anticipated that things like video might take a little while, but even the chats move at molasses pace some days. What ends up happening? A lot of frustration. Not to mention the lag between invites and signing up new people. When something starts to catch on, you’ve got to be able to move with it. While I understand Google had a lot of applications to sift through for the project, waiting as much as a week for confirmation is just ridiculous. Did Google forget? We’re people of the Internet age. We want everything yesterday.

Separate windows. So, I’ve now got GChat in one window with Gmail, but now I’ve got to open up Wave, too. Sometimes people are on both, but rarely. 90% of the time while I’m on Wave, there is no one around at all. There are a great many people in my contacts list—many of whom I have no idea how they got there in the first place—but most of them are never on. Probably because they don’t want another window open, either!

How is it different from email again? I know when I first saw the Google Wave intro video I was blown away. I figured it would change email communication. But then again, I type fast, with relatively few errors. I think for many people, especially since we can’t turn off the type as you go feature right now, there’s a certain feeling of self consciousness going on. It’s hard to edit when people are watching you type (if they’re on at all). A way around it? Open up… another window?

I worry that Google Wave is one of those good in concept but not in practice kind of applications. It can certainly work for some people, but definitely not for everyone. In fact, in the last month the only messages I’ve received on Wave have been from Google… giving me more invites.

When it comes down to it, I think people are reluctant to leave the formats they’re comfortable with. As useful as I think Google Wave could be, the preview has enough holes in it that, unfortunately, it’s left a lot of users in the dark. Let’s just hope when the full-service version rolls out, they’ve attended to some of these issues.

Because right now? It’s feeling quite lonely over on Google Wave.

That said: I do have 10 shiny new invites for the first ten comments here, if anyone wants them. If you haven’t yet, you can take it for a spin and see for yourself.

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