"The real key to its success will be how easy Google can make the user interface," Olds said. "It has to be easy enough for Aunt Carmen to use, but have enough sophisticated functionality to keep the kids and tech heads happy. If Google were the first social network, it wouldn't be as important. The basic functionality would be more important. But this is an area where Google isn't first. Facebook , MySpace, and others got there first. Google Wave will have to compete with those services for mass market acceptance."
Both Olds and Enderle also said that due to some continuing corporate concerns about the security and reliability of cloud computing applications, Google may initially have the most success in convincing individuals to use Wave's social networking features. It will be difficult early on to persuade IT managers to use it as a hosted collaboration and communication tool, they added.
"I think that Wave will be primarily a social network and a place where loose affiliations of individuals get together to work cooperatively," said Olds. "I also can see it as a business collaboration tool for small businesses, but I think that getting large enterprises to use it for anything other than another a social network will take a while."
Enderle did note that even as a social network, Wave must compete for users already loyal to the early players. He added that the Wave technology is more complex than traditional social networks.
"The market tends to like simple solutions," said Enderle. "It's a super product - kind of an uber tool. That's difficult because they have to displace so many [other tools and networks] at once to even get going. Only a company the size and scale of Google could try this. This thing is incredibly innovative and impressive, but getting people to move to it ss going to be a real problem."
It's a problem of "good enough", he added. People think whatever network they're using now is good enough so why bother switching and making sure all their friends and family members switch, as well?