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Will Twitter Annotations Kill Google Wave?

By   /  June 3, 2010  /  No Comments

I am indebted to James Governor @monkchips for asking the question:


The answer is probably closer to” Twitter Annotations will “derail” or “slow” down Google Wave. It will make Google Wave into a niche product. Given that Google does not like “niche” as that is too small to move their massive needle, Google may kill Wave or re-invent it.

Both products are raw and new. Both promise a lot. Both are focused on real time many to many communication. Both use “annotations” Both depend on an ecosystem of developers. The last one is what matters. This is an election decided by geeks.

How Google Wave Does Annotations

Google Annotations. You thought Twitter Annotations was hard to grasp, try this:

If you did not get that, try this. It is the “abridged” version of Google Wave presentation:

OK, so the problem is that Wave is too complex. This feels more like a Microsoft launch, lots promised for the future but hard to get results today.

Wave suffered from a positioning issue. It was positioned as the future of email. So you had the hilarious phase of early adopters who were privileged to get an invite emailing each other to say “did you get my Wave”?

As a niche app, Frederic Landinois at Read Write Web found it useful as a live blogging tool. That is fun for those of us in the media game, but hardly a game-changer.

Where Are The Apps?

A year after Wave was announced we could only find this one app related to mind mapping. That is not the sort of momentum that you expect when Google launches a major product.

Contrast that with the excitement we saw from the Twitter Annotations Hackfest this weekend. Yes, these are early days and developer enthusiasm can be very fickle. But it is likely that the next few months will see a lot of innovative apps that use Twitter Annotations.

What did Twitter do right?

1. Kept it simple.

2. Left a lot open to the ecosystem to define.

3. Embraced the developers before making a big splash.

Twitter has made some moves that have caused disquiet in their ecosystem with some lack of clarity in the commercial rules as they affect partners. Twitter needs to clear this up or risk this early enthusiasm dissipating. Developers invest their time and need to know the rules that will enable them to reap a return in future.

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