Should building product manufacturers use Google Wave?

As of yesterday, anyone with a Google account can now use Wave. But why should you? There are a number of helpful new videos posted, but they only discuss a few use-cases, none of which seem to fit our industry directly.

We tried using Wave on a couple of projects during its invitation-only phase, and found it to have marginal utility for our needs. The biggest problem was that while Wave does many things well, it doesn't do them significantly better than the existing tools we were using:
  • Real-time communication? Great, but since all of us were working on separate schedules it was rare for any two of us to be logged in at the same time. Might as well use the phone or email.
  • Collaborative document editing? Again, nice to have, but since our office has made use of Word's Track Changes feature for years we accomplished the same thing by posting the working document on our server.
  • Inviting other participants? This actually had some value. It didn't become an issue on the projects we were doing, but many of our projects involve getting input from clients, editors, outside experts, code officials, our clients again, and, in one notable case, a very talented German-to-English translator. I can see the benefit of one-click invitations that add resources to the conversation as needed. 
  • Replaying Wave history? Another potentially useful feature. This allowed us to not only revert to previous versions of the document, but also share with newcomers the thought process and evolution of the document. Seeing who made each change provided a lot of insight into the reasons for the change, and helped guide the discussion by pointing the "why did you do that?" questions to the right person. 
  • Simple forums and comment engine?  Many people see this as one of Wave's best uses, but again, is it really more useful than the existing tools? Comments on our blog work fine (please feel free to take that as a hint to comment below), so why make the switch? On the other hand, if you want a free and easy forum for your website, this could be a good way to set it up.
Wave was billed when it first came out as "what email would be if it were invented today", and I think that a reasonable claim. However, email is by far the most commonly used internet technology, which means it's one that most people already know how to use. I can see Wave growing to become a highly useful, if not indispensable, tool in the future, especially now that anyone can participate, but for now the amount of effort required to shift organizations from email to Wave seems daunting.

I recommend you do what we did: try it out for a few projects. Do one or two simple internal Waves first, then try expanding it to involve contacts from outside of your company. I'm planning on revisiting Wave now that it's had some time to mature, and will post my experiences later.

Have you used Wave? Are you planning to? What features are most useful for you?