Google Wave Add-On Is The Start Of A Tsunami

Last Updated Oct 14, 2009 4:07 PM EDT

An MBA student and marketing analyst named Chad Smith has created a tool that notifies users of Google Wave whenever they have a new Wavelet in their in-box.

The tool shows an icon at the bottom right corner of the Web browser indicating the number of wavelets they've been sent.

Why is this important? Because no one is getting wavelets in their in-boxes -- yet. There are probably fewer than 100,000 people in the entire world with Google Wave accounts, and absolutely no way for them to share or collaborate; they are essentially being shown less than a sneak preview; it's a gander at the possibilities.

And yet there's a graduate student (not even a computer science student at that) publishing a tool for it.

Here's what this presages for Google Wave:

  • developers are going to create applications to support it that no one has even thought of. This might seem obvious, but the folks at Google figured an email notification would be enough. That's how it works with Google Docs now -- if someone wants to share a Google Doc with you, you get an email with a link to the document. No one has had the idea of adding an icon to your browser window. But it's obvious that if you want to collaborate with someone, there might be a sense of urgency.
  • because of the open nature of the code base, developers from around the world are going to create applications that support it for their own purposes, but which will add value to the Wave platform without Google even having to lift a finger.
Most people still think of Wave as a Google application or, if they know a little more about it, a collaboration tool with multi-media capabilities. But it's not. It's an application platform that will enable online productivity, collaboration and communication.

Google Voice, Gtalk, gmail, Google Apps, video, all on a single platform, aided and abetted by an unimaginably huge universe of applications written in all languages and for an infinite variety of purposes. This is nothing less than the Internet on steroids.

And what exactly does that mean? It means that people will find themselves doing more of everything online, which is exactly what Google wants. Its business model isn't, as it is for many of the cloud system integrators like Appirio or LTech, to sell applications. It's about search-based online ads, and its stranglehold on that coveted search share will only increase as Wave draws a greater number of people into Google's undertow.

In the long run, this is another disaster for Microsoft's business model, which is dependent on a one-two punch of Office on the desktop and SharePoint in the server room. As users become accustomed to using Google Apps to create documents and Wave to share them, the justification for spending thousands of dollars on Office and other CALs (Client Access Licenses) dissolves like sandcastles by the seashore.

  • Michael Hickins

    Michael Hickins has written about technology and business for BNET, InformationWeek,, eWEEK -- where he was executive editor from 2007-2008 -- The Curator,, Multex Investor, Reuters, and Conde Nast's Hickins is the author of The Actual Adventures of Michael Missing, a collection of short stories published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1991. He also published Blomqvist, a picaresque novel set in 11th century Europe, in 2006. Hickins remains passionately interested in the intersections of business, technology, politics and culture, and endures a life-long obsession with baseball. He is married with two children and lives in Manhattan.