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Google Wave

Before Xero I did a company called AfterMail that was possible because the fundamental way email is stored – is broken. You can’t ask the question, “what email has anyone in my business sent to that customer?” You can’t easily search over email, and email stores the same things multiple times.

We started that business 5 years ago. There has been 2 versions of Exchange since then and they are just as broken. Nothing has fundamentally changed.

Email clients like Outlook and Entourage have done exactly the same thing for 10 years. It has always frustrated me that the big megavendors have not invested in email – the most used application in business. Email is fundamentally inefficient and the lack of innovation has wasted millions and millions of hours across businesses for years.

Enter Google Wave:

Finally, one of the megavendors has used their considerable resources to rethink the most used application in business.

This is one of the most exciting productivity initiatives I’ve seen.

Key points:

  1. This shows the power of design. Actually taking a step back and looking at how things are broken and how they could be.
  2. Web applications are becoming stunning. The web platform is accelerating.
  3. This is an open source protocol. That is important if this is going to the way communications works and we can get rid of inefficient email model.
  4. Where do Calendars fit in this new model?
  5. What will Microsoft’s response be?  If you were the messaging guy you’d be thinking your world has just changed.  If I was them this is the reason to finally move aware from the legacy  Exchange, Office model. Keep doing that if you must but form a new team to build a robust, but short release cycle (6 months versions) Enterprise Wave Server and new Mac and Windows wave clients.  Here is a platform that could be even better in a Software + Services model.
  6. Counter point.  Is Google being arrogant and how will they monetize? I think Wave is a platform shifter to the Web.  Google wins across the board if people move from email clients to the web. This is another direct attack on Office, Windows Client and even SharePoint – Microsoft’s newer cash cow. The browser becomes the platform. Some strong sentiment here: It’s Time For Microsoft To Face Reality About Search And The Internet and What Just Happened? Thursday Was Supposed To Be Bing Day and Microsoft Silverlight vs Google Wave: Why Karma Matters.

Google Wave is important. Yesterday was a big day for the industry and a big wake up call for Microsoft. It is time for innovation.

 

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12 comments

Richard
30 May 2009 #

WOW…

Anton
30 May 2009 #

After watching the full video, all I could think of is “Wow”. And I previously had expectations it would be just another overblown Web 2.0 hypefest.

If Wave was just another Google app, my reaction would’ve been “nifty tech demo, but not really that interested”. But the decentralised federated nature of it is fantastic.

And because it is open sourced – who (apart from shareholders) cares if Google can’t monetise it? Do we care that Tim Berners Lee couldn’t monetise the web? Or that SMTP couldn’t be monetised?

Google’s strategy with these kinds of things could just be to keep disrupting their deep pocketed competitors so they can’t effectively attack their search ad business.

Ben Kepes
30 May 2009 #

Awesome post Rod – from a functional point of view Wave blows my socks off.

However it raises a bunch of questions from a business perspective. Given a completely open source platform how does anyone manage to monetise what Wave offers (beyond the traditional Google way of monetising through increased knowledge about an individual leading to better relevance advertising) – it’s akin I guess to the twitter question, a really valuable tool and, under traditional business value neatly correlates to revenue – however that correlation seems to be diminishing rapidly.

Or perhaps Wave is the way for Google to finally hit enterprise with something paradigm changing. I’d love to hear your thoughts around these strategic questions….

Rod Drury
30 May 2009 #

Thanks Ben.

I guess the response is “does Google need to monetize this”? They spend $500m a year on YouTube.

I’ve been thinking about this all day. This could be a true killer app that breaks people away from their client software. Google has huge upside by doing that if you believe that if people are more online they will consume more online services and view more advertising.

With all the research resources the megavendors have, it lays bare that the obvious applications with the biggest impact on consumers have just not been invested in. It really riles me up. What has Ray Ozzie been doing with Groove? Why is Office on such long release cycles building bloated versions of the same tired and broken model. This is the simplest, broadest application and Microsoft should have done this.

I hope that Microsoft responds positively to this. An Enterprise Wave server would be a great way for them to exploit the energy around Wave.

I prefer my email in a dedicated client, with web access. If I was an OSX developer I’d be building an OSX wave client. The web stuff is already done so you could focus on just making it slick.

It will be interesting to see how Mail.app and iCal look in Snow Leopard which has Exchange support. Entourage update will be well after Office 14. If I was Apple I’d make Mail and Calendar first class Exchange clients and add Wave support. That would make things interesting.

I don’t think Google are *that* interested in the Enterprise specifically, but using Wave other vendors could definitely make a dent.

I’m looking forward to commentary on the what Wave means for MS and Apple. I think this is a biggie.

Rod

Ryan
31 May 2009 #

I see an easy path for them to monetize this, as I already pay them for a service that is free otherwise – Google Apps for your Domain.

There is a huge disparity between companies that are capable of purchasing and adequately maintaining another server, and many (as I’m *sure* Xero should already know) are willing to pay for someone else to take care of it for them.

Duane Jackson
1 June 2009 #

Great post, Rod. I was wondering what your thoughts would be given your background.

This has been a long time coming – I totally agree that up until now email has been fundamentally broken.

I don’t get the sentiment that Google don’t have to monetise it though. They’re still a business, right?

It’s the same ignoring of fundamentals that created the .com bubble and can be seen again at Twitter.

Just doing Good Things isn’t enough, you need to generate value for shareholders too.

Duane Jackson
1 June 2009 #

I went out for the day after writing the above, and it’s been playing on my mind that my comments could be read as having a veiled pop at you guys for having not yet turned a profit from SaaS accounting like we have. It really wasn’t mean that way!

Infact, if I sold KashFlow tomorrow, I’d probably “do a Winkler” with a part of my new found wedge : )

Your product kicks arse and your rate of growth is something to behold. Onwards and upwards!

Duane

Paul Lattimore
2 June 2009 #

I’ll try again :) Is the Xero team still skating to where the puck looks like it’s heading?

[...] Drury offers an analysis that concentrates on the productivity elements but wonders how it gets monetized. Steve Gillmor on the other hand reckons he knows the answer: [...]

Rod Drury
2 June 2009 #

@Duanne: Don’t be naughty

@Paul: We certainly think so, in a number of directions.

Check out this netbook video today:
http://www.tweaktown.com/news/12339/eee_pc_spotted_running_android_qualcomm_1ghz_cpu/index.html

SaaS and related innovations for small business is just getting started. As I’ve said before most vendors are still working on core foundations. That is their ticket to the game. I think 2010 is when you’ll see some real innovation.

Exciting times.

@Dennis: Not sure you read and completely processed my post. Monetization is there for Google [more impressions, beat MS, sell through Google Apps], Microsoft [harden Wave for the Enterprise, reinvigorate Office and not completely loose to Google] and ISV’s [build Wave products e.g. an OSX Client]

Cathy
4 June 2009 #

This is really exciting stuff!
As a small player trying to operate in a global market we are constantly working to encourage communication between our members.
The online translation is particularly exciting from my point of view as we have people online from Norway, Italy, France etc and though we have launched an English site it would be fantastic to broaden the ability to communicate across the language barriers rather than translate the whole site, which seemed our only option until now.
Surely this makes it easier to build sites of broad appeal with rich content.
This can only be beneficial to any web business as it builds the target audience and creates a platform for more informed,understandable and questionable marketing. Questionable in that the audience can get involved in discussion with the producer of a product or service to determine its benefits. I guess it’s a matter of how fast we can learn to use the new tools, but I think we are on the verge of a new explosion of open source web tools and gadgets that will pry the control of information away from the big players. This has to be good as it encourages sharing of information, consideration of opinion and a platform in which content can be considered from many perspectives.

[...] first announcement was Google Wave which Rod from Xero has explained better than I [...]

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