Google countered Microsoft's new search engine announcement on Thursday with an ambitious new project that promises to be "The Email of the Future." Called Google Wave, the new communications product
takes the idea of email and adds to it new elements like message chain IM boxes, photo galleries, widgets and games.
"Good luck!" says Silicon Alley Insider's Dan Frommer, as replacing
email, one of the most deeply entrenched consumer activities on the Web, is "not going to be easy." But Wave certainly looks cool, he says, and could prove to be a "a huge disruption" for companies
like Microsoft that make a lot of money selling "plain-old email," or even companies like Facebook and Twitter, that focus on real-time messaging.
Wave's main selling point is that it's
another free, open-source Google product built on an open-source platform/protocol that other companies can install and develop for -- Microsoft could even use Wave if it really wanted to. But it
faces a big hurdle in replacing email and IM. "It's going to have to be very mainstream to be effective," says Frommer. "In other words, for Wave to be useful, either everyone you want to communicate
with will need a Google Wave account they check into regularly, or other service providers they check into regularly -- Yahoo, Comcast, AIM, Facebook, MobileMe, whatever -- will have to support Wave.
That's not going to happen overnight unless you work at Google."
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