Google Wave is what e-mail would “look like if it were invented today,” said Mark Hachman in PC Magazine. Google Wave is an open-source mash-up of Gmail and instant messaging that Google hopes will revolutionize online communication. And, judging by the first look provided Thursday at the Google I/O conference, that might be an understatement.

The developers at the conference say Google Wave took Google’s best online apps—not just e-mail and messaging—and “rolled them into one new collaboration and communication tool,” said Lisa Hoover in Computer World. But Google Wave won’t be “released into the wild” for a few months, which gives the company some time to convince consumers they need Wave in place of their faithful e-mail and messaging services.

It's certainly possible that Google Wave will "fall on its face," said in MG Siegler in TechCrunch. But there's no question "the potential reward is huge" if Google can get people to view this as a necessary part of their digital lives. Wave is "ambitious as hell—which we love," because "that's how great products are born."