Google Wave Needs Facebook Know-How

Facebook is one of those web properties that people love to speculate should be in play, and who else to buy but Google? Forgetting for a moment that this is unlikely ever to happen, it would be a smart move for Google, but not for the “positioning” reasons you might think. No, Google needs Facebook because it knows how to do something that Google will have to learn.

Google WaveTo understand the context, I’d refer you to Danny Sullivan’s piece about hitting Gmail’s storage limit. He’s looking at the issue of how much email is nothing more than a waste of bytes, in addition to considering whether Google is setting false expectations of never needing to delete messages. But I took something a little different from his post: Just what is Google letting itself in for with Wave?

From the descriptions that are out, like the one by my colleague Michael Hickins, Wave is a collaboration tool that blurs the differences among word processing, spreadsheet, and slide presentation documents; email; real-time chat, and broadcast web conferencing. If this isn’t an invitation to bloat, I don’t know what would be. The problem is that although real-time pondering and discussion is useful, it can also be long-winded and tends to get condensed into the eventual email or document. If everyone in a business is keeping everything and shifting to the web from phone or in-person conversations, then data is going to multiple at a rate that makes today’s race for bigger hard drives seem like nothing.

Cloud storage? That’s fine, but that eventually must translate into real hardware. This is all going to cost money as expectations drive continuing expansion. But just as importantly, it’s going to require an understanding of the operational issues that come up because the minute Google starts rolling this out, it has the potential to explode in scale. And that’s why Facebook would be incredibly useful at the moment. Although not perfect by any means, the company does understand the virtual logistics of keeping a ballooning amount of data more or less moving along. In fact, if you consider that users can attach multimedia documents or links to posts, then the relevance seems even clearer.


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