Its use would have been apparent - if it had been of any use to anyone[...]
I disagree. I see this quite often with new innovations. ...
Well, though I wasn't wondering whether anyone agreed or not, I do appreciate your gratuitous disagreement, but I do think I phrased that badly.
My apologies, but my comment was a bit disjointed as I was trying to write whilst trying (unsuccessfully) to put up with nearby interruptions. I would rather say:
Though its use might have been difficult to perceive at first, having been open-minded and interested enough to give the thing a good "suck-it-and-see", its use would probably have become apparent to the user - if it had been of any use to anyone - and then it might not have needed all that nonsense.
I have edited the post appropriately.
You make the valid point about innovation.
The precursor to innovation is usually the invention of something (which can subsequently be subjected to innovation). The output from many Japanese manufacturers, over the years, has been held to show classic examples of innovation.
Modern history shows that some of the most useful discoveries/inventions of mankind's were the result of experimental discovery, or trial and error, or accident. The rest were largely attributable to deliberate research/design.
As examples of accidents, you have penicillin, and polythene. In the case of polythene, I recall my father-in-law (he was a an industrial chemist) telling me that whilst they were making napthalene (I think it was that) at the ICI plant in Northwich (UK) during the WW2 years and afterwards, there was this horrible gooey stuff produced as a by-product and which they had no use for. It was apparently polythene, or the precursor to it. The accidental creation of something, the use for which (the invention) remained unrealised for some time.
I don't think the same could necessarily be said about Wave though.
I think Wave would probably have been made to a deliberate design - a prototype - so it would probably have had an objective. I have no idea what that objective might have been.
Maybe, as @wraith808
seems to be suggesting, Wave was intended to be a prototype precursor to Google+. But then I have the same reservations about G+ as I did about Wave.
It seemed as though it was an interesting solution to an undefined/nonexistant problem.
If that seems a bit unfair, then let's pose a question: How many different designs of mousetraps do we actually need
in the marketplace, for us to be able to feel secure in the knowledge that we each have a good choice of mousetraps and that we are probably using what feels like the "best" or optimum one for us?
Maybe the answer is unknown, and yet there is the tantalising prospect/possibility of hitting pay-dirt if we "just keep on digging".
In the development of information technology, this may
mean that an acceptable business approach is for producers to take a commercial risk by tweaking/perfecting already perfectly good mousetraps, and applying innovative thinking like mad.
This is what the Japanese electronics manufacturers have been doing for years, and it seems to have paid off for them. They release most of their prototypes into the home market before exporting more widely. The prototypes ("gadgets") often have a short lifecycle. Sometimes the gadgets are testing out the viability of a particular method or technology, and sometimes those gadgets get bundled into a subsequent integrated product.
The marketing term for this is "product development and test marketing", and it is a classic, methodical approach.
This is arguably what Google might be doing - and it seems more likely the case if you consider that they have recently discontinued/shut down a raft of their unsuccessful prototypes. Or maybe they were successful prototypes and Google learned what they needed to from the test marketing.
If there is some truth in this, then it could further support @wraith808's