You wait ages for someone to use the name “Wave” and then three come along at once

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

It’s not just buses that come in threes: “webby things” appear to do so too. Adobe, Microsoft and Google have all recently taken it upon themselves to come up with a service called Wave.

ms-waveMicrosoft Wave
By far the least interesting Wave, Microsoft Wave is a UK-based advertising portal for new-ish Microsoft products and services. As ars technica puts it, “Microsoft Wave: yet another Microsoft site about Microsoft”.Not very interesting at all therefore.

adobe-waveAdobe Wave
Adobe Wave is a still-in-beta product that bigs itself up thus:

When a friend posts a status update or there’s new content on your favorite site, be the first to know.  Adobe® Wave™ software gets the information you care about right to your desktop.  Click on the Adobe Wave badge on a website you want to follow and you’re ready to go.  Best of all, you’re in control: you choose which sites can contact you.  If you’re no longer interested, turning it off is a click away — Adobe Wave does not share your email address with websites.

Now it might occur to you, as you read the above, that RSS already does this. Such thoughts certainly occurred to me. Even the idea of having a central server that aggregates all updates seems nothing new as feed aggregators have been around for a while too.

Unlike RSS though, content publishers have to sign up with Adobe to get their content published. If this service can persuade the likes of Facebook and Twitter to join up, along with news websites, blogs etc, then one might be able to do away with multiple readers and just use the Wave desktop client. That would be a great step forward.

I’ve signed up to be an Adobe Wave publisher. If approved, I’ll write another piece later going into far more detail on Adobe Wave.

google-waveGoogle Wave
If Google’s plans with Google Wave take off, then it is safe to predict that this wave will swamp the competition and become the de facto wave of the future. In a potentially classic case of disruptive innovation, Google Wave seeks to re-write the rules on electronic communication. It seeks to be what email could have been if invented now, rather than 40 years ago. It aims to be email, instant messaging, social networking, blogging etc all rolled into one communication channel.

To play the devil’s advocate, Google Wave will not likely replace email. Email remains the dominant electronic communication medium  because its standards are completely open (despite Microsoft’s best efforts) and anyone can set up an email server. Whilst Wave looks brilliant, it is likely to need the involvement of Google’s servers. As history shows us with the likes of instant messaging, such restrictions are like a red rag to a bull to many and fragmentation is likely.

Google Wave is something to watch, and hopefully I’m going to be eating my words in a few years. Email is past its retirement date and we need a replacement. Maybe Google Wave will be that replacement.