Let me first say: without an email bridge of some sort, this thing will never take off. I highlyrecommend that Google figure out how they might like to do that bridge.
Otherwise, how is someone supposed to use Wave as their complete communication/collaboration solution if it doesn't have connectivity to... oh, I don't know... thebillion people connected via email? It's like if the mobile phone system didn't call through to landlines.
It could just be that vendors whitelist their SMTP server to connect to Wave. Bank of America, for example, should be able to hook in their email communication to Wave without extra coding on their part.
The counter argument? How many vendors now spam you via Facebook and Twitter? They didn't seem to have a problem coding up those solutions. So it probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch to have the Comcasts and BOFAs of the world start sending you Waves instead of emails.
And now... onto the review.
Everyone's first impression of Wave is pretty much the same thing: "OK, now what do I do?" It's nifty, but email and IM are far more accessible and everyone... literally everyone... is connected via these now. Sending someone a Wave might as well be like leaving a post-it note on their spare bedroom's door. They'll see the message eventually, if and when they ever log in again. It's like when someone sends you a message on Orkut? Gunna see it? Unlikely.
And my first real test of it was a long, long wave where a friend of mine and I tried using it like IM. It was very slow to use, couldn't keep up with our typing, and just generally annoying.
But I think I'm finally starting to get it.
A Wave isn't really an email or an IM. I mean, it could be, but that's not what it's most useful for. It's most useful for mini-collaboration. It's not meant for collaborating on a Word or Excel spreadsheet, but it's not supposed to be chat either. A friend of mine and I today made a Wave for collecting together 80s music we like. We can easily collaborate on the list, drop stuff in and such, but keep it nicely organized in terms of discussion and the list itself. Also, it's super-easy to drag and drop music directly into the Wave.
One of the things that's really annoying about IM is that I have it running on 3 machines at all times -- my home machine, my work machine and my Droid. An initial IM message goes to all three. However, the conversation that ensues after someone pings me only happens from one of those three. Now, Gmail tracks and saves that conversation, but that requires going back in the logs, and replying to those logs replies via email, not IM.
If you think about what Twitter and Facebook has created, it's very hard to track conversations and meta-conversations that fall out of even small blurbs. An Apple employee posts to twitter: "omglol! AT&T is the suxx0rs!". Discussion of the tiny, 160-char post ensues on twitter, blogs, private emails. How do you connect all of this conversation back to the original? Unless it was originally posted on /b/ and tracked with Encyclopedia Dramatica, it's almost impossible to find out where the original thought came from sometimes.
In short, there is a major disconnect between all of the forums of communication we use right now. Wave is trying to fix that. It might not work but it's worth a shot.
I actually tried embedding this post as a Wave, to show how this might work in the future. But I failed, the tech is a little broken still it seems.