What Google Wave Means for Facebook

Google dominated the business and technology press yesterday after it revealed the existence of Wave, a web-based application built upon email that enables users to share notes, pictures, blogs, videos and other bits of dynamic content in real-time. If successful, Wave would make Google’s core products and the web in general inherently more social, which begs the question: What does that mean for Facebook?

Overall, it might be too early to tell, but Facebook should keep an eye on where the technology is headed for a few reasons.

One is the design similarities. As an application, Wave embraces the “stream” design that Facebook has already implemented for its 200 million users. Apps focused on streams of shared content are based on the idea that information should flow to you. The Facebook News Feed and home page have been restructured to work in this format, representing a departure from past iterations of the site’s design that relied more heavily on users visiting their friends’ profiles. Under Facebook’s stream design, the content your friends share on Facebook flows to your fingertips.

Wave will do this, too. But it won’t just be your Facebook friends — it can be everyone in your address book, making it potentially very powerful.


But since Wave won’t be available until later this year, Facebook will enjoy even more time to have their users adjust to this way of consuming content on its platform. One of Facebook’s most powerful assets is that users have already uploaded years of pictures, notes and videos. This trove of content has made Facebook not only their primary communications mechanism, but their digital scrapbook as well. It’s unlikely that, overnight, they would move to their Gmail (or Wave) account to control all that information.

But Facebook shouldn’t dismiss Wave as hype, either. It appears to have immediate upsides for both developers and consumers. For developers, Wave is very open. They can add functionality to it, integrating it with other websites and applications. For consumers, Wave seems to marry social features (like an event invitation) with the robust messaging capabilities that you’d see in Gmail or instant messaging clients.

It also doesn’t require that users be loyal to one particular web tool or service for their content creation; they could use many of them. This, of course, could make Facebook look more “closed off,” since many of Facebook’s core applications (i.e. photos, notes, videos) are proprietary.


Rather than be adversarial, Facebook might examine how its site could work alongside Wave rather than compete with it. To date, Facebook’s large user-base remains loyal. They might conclude that Facebook and Google serve different purposes in their daily Web diets, as they currently do today.

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17 Responses to “What Google Wave Means for Facebook”

  1. Gyuri Grell says:

    The thing is, someone can and will write a connector (for wave) to Facebook via FB’s APIs, meaning that all FB content could be viewable and updatable within Google’s wave client. User’s would no longer have to go FB.com if wave is aggregating all this activity. At least, that’s how I understand it, and was demonstrated in the keynote using twitter as the example.

  2. Eric Fredine says:

    Wave is broader than email or Facebook. Its paradigm is a shared document that is edited in real-time and the updates are also shared in real-time (to some defined audience). This applies just as well to an email (defined audience for a particular communication), a tweet or blog post (a public audience – goes to a group of people defined by someone OTHER than the author) or a Facebook like update (goes to a group of people defined by the author). Wave will ultimately be a super-set of Facebook.

  3. Jesse Stay says:

    You’re comparing apples to oranges here. Yes, Wave the Product has some similarities to Facebook, but Wave is much more than that. Theoretically, Facebook could easily incorporate the Wave protocol in its own platform and be doing the exact same things Google is. You’ve got to be distinctive as to whether you’re talking about Wave the Product, Wave the Platform, or Wave the Protocol here. It’s much more than just a Product.

  4. David Haddad says:

    Thanks Justin. Your article was good at connecting the dots.

  5. Miranda says:

    I wish everyone was on one social network. One. Everything would be easier. 1/3 of my Google homepage wouldn’t be filled with myspace/twitter/facebook gadgets.

  6. Dawei Lu says:

    Facebook will incorporate the Wave protocol … ;) and the Wave platform will incorporate facebook connect… Users will decide which platform to use… So I say they will probably compete >_<

  7. fb message says:

    Goog wave is nothing but facebook inbox messaging between more than 2 people. Thats all.

    But as per the theory of KISS, goog wave will be service no one uses due to complexity.

  8. Justin H says:

    Seriously calling Wave a Facebook inbox indicates you need to do more reading. Anyone can implement the Wave protocol, including Facebook and MySpace. With Wave I could start a convo on Facebook and others could respond to it via Gmail, Twitter, ICQ and MySpace, all using an open protocol.

  9. Google Wave: un nuovo Facebook? | Valentino Aluigi says:

    [...] anche gli autori del blog Inside Facebook che hanno approfondito il paragone con questo articolo: What Google Wave Means for Facebook. L’opinione del blogger è che Facebook dovrebbe probabilmente iniziare a tenere [...]

  10. I Am The Sharper Image says:

    Facebook should still very much have its place. You can only spend so much time on Google Apps before your brain turns to swiss cheese. Diversity is needed.

  11. Sachendra Yadav says:

    I don’t think it’s a threat to Facebook. The biggest problem it solves is that you no longer have to write “See comments inline” in emails


  12. Muzri Mohamad says:


  13. Jan Carl says:

    i wond a special apllication …
    ask me how to do

  14. The Neophile - Facebook to Wordpress API… Trying to easily share news stories… and Google Wave says:

    [...] Wave may just be the answer I have been searching for. I don’t know if Google Wave will end up being the demise of Facebook. I’d be perfectly content if my Facebook account and my Google account could have a symbiotic [...]

  15. Daniel says:

    I have to agree with Jesse and Dawei on this one… I don’t think the companies will be so much competing as they are cooperating. Facebook will almost surely implement their own Wave server to replace the existing mail system it has, in addition to managing things like status updates.

    Think of all the JavaScript…….

  16. Devon says:

    this article points out some incorrect information. google wave is not at all based on email, it is a protocol of its own. also, it does not mention that wave, by definition, cannot be a threat in any way to facebook. this is because wave is going to be open sourced, and it is an open protocol that everyone can implement. so facebook could augment their interface with wave, without dealing with google at all. Wave can only be good for facebook, unless they don’t implement this new technology.

  17. Wave tutorials says:

    Nice article with some interesting comments… I agree with several comments here although the 2 brands are not really comparable as theyre completely different entities altogether. Just to be clear, I think Facebook is great for what its achieved and what it allows me to do with my friends although its essentially a traditional website with a very sophisticated UI together with a limited API with FBJS and FBML.

    Google Wave on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish. For one, Wave is a framework and not a website. Facebook is a website, essentially. Rather than seeing the two brands fighting for Internet supremacy I dont see why sections of Facebook cant utilize XMPP/ Google Wave to make Facebook more real-time and more collaborated then it already is. I think in the near future we will see more and more third-party Facebook applications that make the most of Google Wave and allow people to collaborate together in real-time. Im sure theres a lot of legacy code under the hood of Facebook so theres lots of reasons not to implement XMPP although it might get to a point where they have to if other brands out there start to. Much in the same way when Twitter came along it wasnt long before Facebook started providing asynchronous updates to your news feed, like Twitter.

    In comparison to the present version of Facebook, the internal message/ email system and Facebook apps are still very much old-fashioned components, relying on a state change before broadcasting the object to everyone/ everything involved. This is where Google Wave could really improve Facebook.


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