The retirement of Google Wave is pretty big news. There’s a lot of discussion on how Google failed. Failed because they misjudged the acceptance, failed because they overhyped, and failed because they waited too long before finding out whether users would actually like it. And all those things did happen, and some of them were probably mistakes.
But the main thing that I get out of this, to be honest, is quite a bit of respect for Google in how they handled this. They had an idea, followed up on it, saw a possibility of creating a product out of it, experimented, poured resources into it, tried it out in the wild, publicly supported it… And when the time came, they admitted it wasn’t working out as hoped for, and in a timely manner pulled the plug. Writing the whole thing off as something that generated some useful technology, and hopefully some valuable insight in end-user wishes.
This is how you innovate. You take risks. You try new ideas. You get feedback from your (potential) users. You fail.
And if you don’t fail enough, you’re not trying hard enough.
For a company of Google’s size, failure is necessary on a larger scale.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some failing to do…
Update: I just love it when people back me up: Eric Schmidt said: ";We celebrate our failures. This is a company where it is absolutely OK to try something that is very hard, have it not be successful, take the learning and apply it to something new.";