Google Wave - Where are the Surfers?
I watched the Google Wave tech demo when it first came out early last year. I was impressed by some of the collaborative features, and even more so by the potential to have Wave integrated into other websites like blogs and forums. Wouldn't it be great if you read something on Engadget, or some other Tech blog, and instead of having to become a member to post a comment, you can just post a comment with your Wave id? And the Wave automatically gets added to your Wave inbox so you get all future replies without having to return to the website.
I think Wave will have two primary use cases - a corporate environment where Wave is integrated into the core of business processes for collaboration, project management, and internal communication; and the non-corporate public consumer who uses Wave for personal communication and information management.
Both have potential, but I don't think either will take off unless Wave is very tightly integrated with regular email. For the corporate users, even if Wave is made the preferred internal communication channel, email is still needed for contacting those outside the team or outside the intranet. This applies even more so for the casual consumer who's friends and relatives are very likely to not be Wave users.
Having both a Wave account and Email account may not be such a bad thing if the two services were distinct. But Wave is very similar to email in many ways (Inbox, contacts, message history, offline send/reply, attachments, etc.). Wave is a superset of email.
Managing two email like environments is tough though. Having to worry about which to use for which contact, who has Wave and who doesn't, which Inbox to search for a message you read three months ago, etc., is not ideal.
Wave really needs to be integrated into the core of Gmail somehow so that the two work seamlessly together. I don't see the service taking off in any other way. I've had a Wave account for over a year now, but I can count the number of times I logged in on one hand.