I've finally had a chance to spend a couple of hours with Google Wave, and I wanted to give you my VERY early impressions. I'll say up front that it's completely possible that I'll change my opinion dramatically yay or nay on Wave from what I state here, but still wanted to let you know what I think early on. I've noticed with most social media sites/tools that I tend to change how I use them over time.
As for Google Wave, my initial impression is that it's a souped up IM service. And for me as an individual, I don't see a ton of 'wow' factor happening here, since I don't often have a need to connect with small groups of people and collaborate on ideas, which is where I think Wave has some value.
But I can see how Wave could benefit a company, especially a virtual company (Ann and the gang at Marketing Profs, I'm looking at you), in giving them the ability to collaborate on ideas in one space.
The main backbone of Google Wave is the ability to create messages, which Google calls Waves. It seems as if Google is trying to position Waves as being Email 2.0, but it really looks to me like IM 2.0.
I can create a Wave that's 5 paragraphs, and send it to Beth. Beth can then go in and break up the Wave and reply to each paragraph. I can then reply to each point Beth made.
Now let's say at this point we decide that we want to bring Amy and Jason into our Wave and get their ideas on what we've been talking about. First, they are going to see a Wave that's probably confusing as hell, because it will be my original 5-paragraph Wave, which was then broken into 5 parts (where Beth replied to each paragraph), and then I replied to each of Beth's replies. So it looks like a complete cluster to anyone that joins the Wave at this point.
But Google Wave would give Amy and Jason the ability to 'replay' the wave and see how it was created. They could first see the 5-paragraph wave I wrote, then see Beth break it down into replies for each paragraph, them my replies to her replies. So it's less confusing.
One thing I wish Wave supported (and maybe it does and I haven't been able to find it yet) was the ability to pull items from other social sites. For example, let's say in tomorrow's feed from Google Reader, I find a blog post that's critical of my company. If I could move that post from Reader to Wave, I could then share it with my co-workers (let's say 5 of them are also on Wave), and then we could collaborate via Wave on how to handle this critical blog post. The same thing could be done with a tweet from Twitter or a comment on a Facebook Fan Page. Again, maybe it's possible to do that now, or will be soon.
Anyway, that's my VERY early impressions of Wave. Now it should be mentioned that few of my contacts are on Wave right now. In a month if most of my contacts from Twitter have moved to Wave, the service could be much more valuable to me. But I can already see the potential value for companies as an internal collaboration tool.
If you've been using Wave, what are your thoughts? What potential can you see for the tool? Do you see it having more value for individuals, or businesses?