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RIP Google Wave

By Stacy Cowley, tech editor

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Google's attempt to reinvent e-mail has fizzled. The company said Wednesday it is pulling the plug on Google Wave, a collaborative tool that drew intense attention when it debuted last year.

"Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked," Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president of operations, wrote in a post on the company's blog. "We don't plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects."

Launched last May at Google's annual I/O developer conference, Google Wave took a whole bunch of communications tools -- e-mail, instant messaging, wiki collaboration, blog publishing and so on -- and threw them in the blender to create a new message system. A group conversation became a "wave," with participants able to suck videos, maps, images and other multimedia elements into their discussion. Conversations could happen in real time or through replies sent later.

Though officially still in "developer preview" and only available by invitation, Google Wave sparked thousands of articles and blog discussions -- at one point, invitations to the site were selling on eBay. Tech watchers debated whether the system was an e-mail killer. "This is Google's best shot at a ubiquitous mainstream product since Google Maps," Time magazine wrote in its review. "It won't replace e-mail, but it deserves a spot in any office warrior's arsenal."

But users struggled to wrap their heads around Wave's array of power tools. "We're still not entirely certain what Google Wave is for -- or even if humans are capable of comprehending it," Engadget commented five months after the launch.

Wave's core technologies have been open-sourced and will live on, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) pledged: "Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science," Hölzle wrote in Google's blog. "We will work on tools so that users can easily 'liberate' their content from Wave." To top of page

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