Email and IM just don't cut it any more, according to Google (NSDQ: GOOG). The company is rolling out a new tool that it says will make it much easier for groups to communicate in real time. Google is a little stingy on the details about Wave, as it's called, and insists it's still a work in progress but in an introductory blog post, Google's Lars Rasmussen says it is a single web application that would be optimized for "computers' current abilities." Contrast that, he says, with e-mail, which is modeled on snail mailor IM, which he says is modeled on phone calls. Rasmussen: "Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?"
Elaborating, he says people "can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content." Users will also be able to directly drag items from their desktoplike photosinto the wave.
It will be worth watching what groups Google ends up targeting with the product, considering there are already a number of other collaboration tools onlineand from the screenshots on the Wave website this one does not exactly look intuitive to use. For the moment, the company is inviting developers to build on it and there's no official timeline for a public release.
By Joseph Tartakoff