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Google Wave had its first birthday yesterday, but got no presents

When the folks at Google posted a Happy Birthday to Wave yesterday, it was difficult to tell whether or not they were being sarcastic or serious about it.

It's now been a year since the first Wave demo wowed audiences the world over, only for those audiences to be sorely disappointed months later to find out that they not only couldn't get ahold of invites to use Wave, but that it offered little to no usefulness once they did.

Just over a week ago, Google finally opened up Wave -- taking it out of secret society mode and gifting it to the general public. But despite the overwhelming enthusiasm of some Googlers, nobody's really buying it.

"Can you imagine a world without Wave today?" Google's official post asked.

Probably, since there's a pretty high likelihood that you've never used it. Just about everybody I know that's tried Wave has had the same experience -- which is to say that they stopped using it about half an hour after they started. Honestly, I don't really blame them.

I use Wave for work when collaborating with a partner, just because we started using it months ago and it works for that singular purpose; but using it for anything other than a simple collaborative outline just isn't worth the pain -- and I do mean pain, because between the creeping slowness of Wave and the wrestling needed to get it to behave, painful is the only way to describe it.

Take chatting: One of the major selling points that Google uses for Wave is the typing and how it's leveraged for better communication. You and your friends can see what's being typed as it's typed, and you can later edit what's been typed -- whether it was by you or someone else in the wave.

When people first saw those features in action, there was a bunch of ZOMG THAT'S AWESOME going around, but it all changed when they actually got to try it. Turns out it's horribly annoying to sit and watch as people peck out typo after mind-numbing typo, constantly backtracking to fix them as they go -- and make no mistake, no matter how fast a typist you may be in a normal setting, when your words are being broadcast in real-time, you're all but guaranteed to look like a middle-school keyboarding class dropout. As for being able to edit other people's text... it's more often a license for shenanigans than it is a tool for productivity.

Then there's that bit about Wave replacing email. Those of you out there that have used Wave: honestly, can you really see Wave replacing email? It barely works as Wave. So happy birthday Google Wave; I hope you have many more, because at this rate you're going to need as many as you can get for people to start using you.

Tags: birthday, Google, google wave, GoogleWave