Google's Split Personality - or - Why The Death of Google Wave Matters

On the one hand Google is a scrappy imagineer. They encourage skunkworks projects - even allotting paid time for their development. Crazy little personal ideas have become big selling points for Google, such as Google Maps.

On the other hand Google is an enterprise software company. They need to feel safe and secure to their clients. Stable.

These two sides don’t mesh well. GMail didn’t take the “Beta” tag off their banner logo until AFTER they realized enterprise companies were scared away by that. Why? Because what just happened with Google Wave could have happened with GMail.

A company I worked for considered replacing their BaseCamp install with a Google Wave setup. Where would they be today? I don’t know the specifics; perhaps Google has a graceful EOL policy. But even if that’s the case, it means your processes, training and budgets have to be re-worked.

I’m not necessarily complaining, here. I love the former side of Google. I’m tooling around Google Labs pretty frequently. Their attempt to dip their toe in the latter side, though, has me worried. They’re either going to have to very seriously formalize how features/applications/services move from the latter to the former and “stick,” or they’re going to have to pull the plug on one side.

I, for one, value the scrappy scientists more than the stuffy suits.