Google's product, platform, and protocol also combines aspects of e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and blogs to allow real-time and stored collaborative messaging.
But just as Apple's iPhone obviates the need to carry both a phone and a music player by combining both functions in the same device, Wave's competence with multiple modes of communication seems likely to doom tools with more focused functionality that don't add unique value.
Wave represents an attempt to imagine "what might e-mail look like if it were invented today," according to Rasmussen.
That raises the question of e-mail's future following Wave's launch. Fortunately for those who love e-mail, Wave isn't a replacement, at least not for several decades. It may siphon more meaningful interactions that benefit from Wave's collaborative capabilities. But Wave looks like a poor medium for unsolicited messages, commercial or otherwise, which account for about 90% of e-mail presently.
Since Wave participants must accept a Wave invitation, the potential for Waves initiated by spammers appears to be limited. The invitations themselves aren't customizable and so can't effectively convey marketing messages. Wave also supports cryptographic sender verification, which should avoid spoofing problems. In addition, the underlying system includes spam detection systems developed by Google and supports spam reporting, just in case.
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