Microsoft Partners Dance On Google Wave's Grave

Google Wave, a melange of e-mail, instant messaging and social networking, was seen as a dipping of toes into a space dominated by products like Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint and IBM Lotus Notes. After launching it last May, Google this week halted development of Google Wave as a standalone product, due to weak adoption.

Microsoft partners believe the collaboration parallels between Google Wave and Sharepoint were overblown, but they're nonetheless feeling a frisson of schadenfreude at the demise of the product.

"Google Wave was an interesting lesson," said Ken Winell, CEO of ExpertCollab, a Microsoft solution provider in Florham Park, N.J. "I think Google had hoped that a basic platform like Google Wave would attract people at the consumer level, but they basically built a shared inbox."

Ric Opal, vice president of Peters & Associates, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based solution provider, says some of his customers are looking at Google Docs and Gmail but none has asked about Google Wave. He cites the ubiquity of Sharepoint as the big reason why. "It would have been hard for Wave to penetrate the collaboration space given the strength of SharePoint," he said.

Sponsored post

Winell agrees: "Sharepoint offers much more than Google Wave, including workflow, security and audience management and Web parts to customize."

Google often highlights the cost advantages companies can reap by switching from Microsoft Office to Google Apps. Had Google Wave caught on, we probably would have been hearing similar claims about Sharepoint.

But Office and Sharepoint are very different animals, and Microsoft has the advantage of a user base that's accustomed to the features and functionality it offers. Companies often discover that the time involved in learning a new platform outweighs the cost advantages Google offers, notes Kevin Baylor, managing partner at Suncoast Business Technologies, a solution provider in Bradenton, Fla.

"We know companies that have moved their corporate collaboration and communication to Google and are enjoying the cost savings, but many still miss the Microsoft feature set. It's not always about the bottom line," Baylor said.

Google says it's making inroads in the enterprise, but Microsoft often points out its rival's lack of experience in this market. The demise of Google Wave is, in the opinion of some Microsoft partners, a telling example of Google underestimating the rigorous nature of the challenges companies face in the enterprise.

"Enterprise software means 36 language versions and thousands of people involved in the marketing, sales, and support of these application ecosystems," said Tim Huckaby, CEO at InterKnowlogy, a Microsoft Gold partner in Carlsbad, Calif.

"Right or wrong, throwing a product up on a Website in English only, and assuming that the viral effect will grow the business just isn’t going to cut it when you're going up against the Microsofts of the world," Huckaby added.

Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for twentysix New York, a Microsoft partner in New York City, describe Google's product success ratio as "incredibly low" given how much praise and how little scrutiny the company often gets.

"I don't blame Google for taking risks and losing. In fact, I would praise them for it. But their failures need to be covered fairly so that they can be compared accurately with other tech companies' successes," said Brust.