Staunch defenders of Microsoft SharePoint can lay down their shields; Google has decided to discontinue its development of Google Wave, which some perceived as a threat to SharePoint.

Google Wave is a web application for real-time communication and collaboration launched as a developer preview in May 2009. It promised a new method of real-time communication and collaboration that combined elements of the various popular types of communication such as email and online chat.

I participated in the beta program of Google Wave and was impressed by some of the capabilities such as the character-by-character live typing. If you were communicating with other users, you instantly saw what they were typing instead of waiting for their email reply or staring at the “Joe is typing” message in the chat window. (Of course, that feature also exists in the Google Docs tool.) It was a lot more like a face-to-face conversation than a radio transmission with someone on the space station.

Real-time Collaboration is Highly Desirable

As with anything related to this ridiculously successful company, Google’s Wave-retreat announcement received a great deal of attention. Its focus on collaboration attracted comparisons with SharePoint, a product that is designed to bring ECM to the masses.

These comparisons were clearly premature. SharePoint is more focused on the management of content, while Google Wave’s interesting breakthroughs were around communication between collaborators.

As a frequent user of SharePoint, I would welcome the real-time collaborative innovations that were introduced in Google Wave in this product. It is too bad that type of cooperation between these two companies is unlikely.

With this diversion over, Google and Microsoft can focus on their main battleground of hosted services – the fight between Microsoft’s BPOS and Google Apps.