The news from Google this week that the Wave has crashed and burned was a bit of a shame. I had high hopes for this development, but sadly, the platform was just too hard for people to get the hang of.
One of the reasons that the social web - particularly social networking and blogging - has done so well and grown so dramatically in the last five years is because it is easy to do. You don't require a high degree of technical skill, you can point and press and it takes moments to share stuff with others.
Despite the anticipation, the huge build up, the long wait for a Wave invite, once faced with their Waves, most people tended to look at it blankly, realise they had no idea where to start and quietly put it back in the box - a bit like an IKEA cabinet where you can see the screws are there but they are taped so tightly to the packaging you never get round to putting it together.
There were some excellent bits to Wave and I suspect that they will be used elsewhere - the rumoured 'Google Me' might pick up a few or perhaps they will build in some additions to the rather lame Buzz.
I am a big fan of Google's development processes and think they are to be applauded for continually exploring what else we can do (even though I have serious and long-term misgivings about the potential for misuse of power and information that exists around an organisation so large having so much information in its control). What these clever folk need to always keep in mind is that for the web to work it has to be easy. Geek it up for mass use and you are on a hiding to nothing.
Given we are talking Waves here, Google - and others - need to remember that many on the web are paddlepusses, delighted to play in the shallows but not yet ready, willing or able to take on the big surf.
So perhaps the big lesson for Wave is make sure the box contains clear and simple instructions next time around. The failure was perhaps not so much the product itself, but the communication that surrounded it. Building the anticipation is fine to a degree, but if the why, how and what for is not clearly communicated then expectations are dashed and reputation suffers. Which, if I recall correctly, sits somewhere in Lesson 101 Communications Management...