Google will retire its Wave collaboration platform for good next year in an “off-season spring cleaning” exercise.
In a e-mail to Google Wave users yesterday, the search giant said all waves will be read-only by January 31, 2012, followed by a complete shut-down of the service on April 30, 2012. Users can continue to export individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off.
In September, Google announced that it was pulling the plug on a number of services that haven’t had the impact the company had hoped for. Apart from Google Wave, Google is also shutting Bookmarks List, Friend Connect, Google Gears, Search Timeline, Knol and Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal.
Hailed as a groundbreaking technology, Google Wave had the potential to change the way we communicate online by mashing up e-mail, photo and video sharing, instant messaging (IM) and document editing features. It was launched with much fanfare in May 2010 but only gained a million users in over a year.
In contrast, Twitter rival Google Buzz gained tens of millions of users since it was launched in February 2010, though that service was also shuttered last month, along with Jaiku and Code Search.
There are several reasons for Google Wave’s demise. Chief among them is the lack of integration with Google Docs, where users could potentially benefit from Wave’s collaboration features such as IM and live editing. Moreover, the learning curve was so steep that Lifehacker founding editor Gina Trapani produced an extensive guide on the service.