The company announced at its I/O developer conference that the Google Wave collaboration and communication tool is now available to everyone as part of the hosted Google Apps tool suite.
The web-based Google Wave application is designed to offer a variety of tools, such as email, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management and document sharing in a social networking-like system.
Analysts have called Google Wave the latest, and perhaps the most comprehensive, entrant into a burgeoning social networking business.
The Google Wave offering was first announced at the May, 2009, Google developer conference and then rolled out to 100,000 beta users late last September.
Though some analysts are impressed with the product, it's not expected to quickly attract the attention of corporate IT executives.
"I don't see it catching on right away with businesses," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "Businesses, with some exceptions, tend to be slow to adopt new technology. Collaboration products, in particular, have proven to be a very hard sell. If you layer on top of that a lack of understanding about the benefits of Wave and you get a slow or nonexistent adoption curve."
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said Google Wave has a chance of catching quickly on in the education market but not in the corporate world.
"I think it may be important in the education market, which is where Google Apps is getting some traction," added Gottheil. "Wave is powerful and has a lot of potential, but I haven't seen a lot of interest in the business community. Part of Google's barrier to entry into the enterprise is support -- Google just doesn't want to answer the phone."
Gottheil said that Google Wave will be able to hook enterprise users once either Google or a third party developer comes out with a killer business app. "When someone builds a strong business app, they will come," he said.
Enderle said that Google would be wise to focus on spreading Wave to individual users and small businesses first and then grow naturally from there.
"People have to be motivated and driven to do things differently and change tools," he said. "Until, and unless, Google understand this, efforts like Wave will be a footnote in history under the category of failure."
Computerworld is a Computerworld UK affiliate.