Jaiku Is Not Twitter

JaikuAs everyone probably knows, yesterday Google announced that they’ve acquired Finnish Jaiku. This took me by a surprise, but the aftershock in the blogosphere didn’t. In couple of minutes the web was full of posts wondering why Google acquired Jaiku instead of Twitter, its apparent competitor. The silly reasons included such gems like:

  • Google bought Jaiku, because it was cheaper of the two
  • Google bought Jaiku, because Jaiku has better mobile platform and then there’s “GPhone”
  • Google settled for the second best
  • They want to ruin it just like they did Dodgeball

What all these have in common is that people somehow assume Google has any interest in Twitter. Now some bloggers are wondering which company will grab Twitter (ooh, is it Yahoo?). Like someone cared. They are entirely different beasts and it’s a mistake (that Google didn’t make) to look at Jaiku through Twitter-coloured lenses.We’ve talked about Jaiku on this blog before and even I was a little skeptical of Jaiku in the past. The latter link will also explain why many, especially American, bloggers find Jaiku inferior to Twitter. Google, on the other hand, is a global company. It seems that there are other things than just the Atlantic between USA and Europe.

For all the bloggers still wondering why Google bought Jaiku (oh well) instead of Twitter, the reason is that Jaiku has far superior software platform. Google doesn’t buy products or brands, Google buys technology. Blogger and Picasa are the few products Google has bought. Writely, Urchin and others were bought because of their tech. Jaiku’s platform is a combination of Atom and XMPP/Jabber, which are both, in my opinion, the technologies to watch out for. That’s where the potential is.

It is true that Jaiku has strong mobile features, f.e. using Bluetooth and cell tower IDs to locate you and your friends. Unfortunately this feature requires a Symbian S60-based phone. It seems that many bloggers just read the Google acquisition news, went over to Jaiku’s website to see what’s it all about and picked up the words “mobile” and thought that explains it. My guess is that Jaiku’s acquisition has more to do with similar deal with Feedburner than with any rumoured GPhone platform. What Jaiku has, and which probably interests Google a lot, is XMPP/GTalk integration. Here’s a post from someone who actually was a Jaiku user and got it.

What seems to frustrate many bloggers is that after the announcement, new sign-ups to Jaiku are restricted to invites only. Readwriteweb goes as far as to say “[Restricting sign-ups] seems like a move that’s a bit hostile to the early adopter types who are following this news now and a real lost opportunity.” Early adopters are by definition already on Jaiku, the “early adopters” now suddenly feeling some strong Jaiku-love are late. My guess is that technical reasons for restricting sign-ups are just an excuse and the real reason is to build up hype, why else would they still allow people to invite others? (Remember the Gmail hype, anyone?)

Just an example of what Jaiku can do, some people have even went as far as to use Jaiku as an IRC-client (another Finnish-born tech that IRC). Try do that in Twitter and come back to tell me that Jaiku isn’t as much about IM as Twitter and is more about presence.

PS. Techiteasy is already on Jaiku, for those who care.


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8 Responses to “Jaiku Is Not Twitter”

  1. Vincent van Wylick says:

    Nice reasoning. I agree with that Jaiku right now represents more of a platform than Twitter does, or gives the indication of being. And platforms are Google’s core-business.

    The question is what Google is intending with Jaiku, or whether it will give the service free reign and just support it via ads.

    I personally think it’s an excellent way to expand its advertising-reach into the mobile space, assuming that there is a Gphone and that Google intends to do something mobile with next year’s frequency auction. Also the Jabber-integration is intriguing.

    Btw. doesn’t Twitter support XMPP/Jabber too?

    And cool that your Jaiku-channel also catches the del.icio.us bookmarks tagged ‘techiteasy.’ It’ll motivate me to bookmark more.

  2. Jeremy Fain says:

    What’s also interesting is that Twitter, not Jaiku, reached critical mass first. Would early adoption from prominent bloggers or first mover advantage play a role in Twitter outperforming Jaiku by far in terms of traffic?

  3. william says:

    I’ll concede that you make some good points. You called my points silly, but yours aren’t without fault either.

    1. Google buys tech – yes, they do but trust me, there isn’t anything in Jaiku that they couldn’t replicate easily. I also dispute that they purchased it for the technology, more like for the advertising opportunities (Jaiku doesn’t have it but watch for ads to start popping up there soon)

    2. Jaiku is technically superior to Twitter? Sorry I have to disagree. As a mobile platform, Jaiku is horrible. They have a slick app which runs on 1 phone, have no way of handling SMS from the states (unless you care to send one internationally). As far as I have seen, no way to pull keywords (track) out of the public timeline.

    So what does Jaiku excel at? Well, it has a snazzier interface and some icons.

    If you believe that Jaiku is technically superior I disagree with your premise.

    If you believe that I do, that Google’s acquisition was about bolstering their ad network, Twitter has the larger user base.

  4. Kari Silvennoinen says:


    Your post was good, but seriously, do you think someone with the market cap of Google has to settle for the second best? If they wanted Twitter, they would’ve taken that instead. I agree with “settling for the second best” if Google was after what Twitter is about, but as I try to say in my post, I doubt this is the case.

    You’re right, Google could easily replicate any tech they want. They could’ve built their own Blogger, Picasa, Writely or whatever. One of their top bosses even said this when talking about open-source licensing (if the license doesn’t suit Google, they’ll write their own). I don’t think they’re stupid, but they also won’t reinvent the wheel. They can and will buy the tech they want, because there are significant advantages like existing user base and know-how. (I doubt that Jaiku’s founders Nokia

    experience goes to waste at Google.)

    The ugly truth with Twitter is that it’s based on RoR and you have to agree that it’s not really mature platform for the web. There have been frequent downtimes and scalability issues. Scalability and uptime are something that Google takes quite seriously.

    You can be sure that after Google’s acquisition of Jaiku, Google probably can provide Jaiku with a US-based SMS number. The app actually runs on many phones, but none of them are popular in the US. But as I said, mobile probably wasn’t the reason Google bought Jaiku.

    If Google wanted to buy a “microblogging” platform for their ad network, wouldn’t Twitter made more sense in the first place (it has the critical mass and the user base, both that Jaiku lacks)? My uninformed guess is that Jaiku will go the way of Writely and Urchin and will be integrated into Google’s core apps. In this sense, it doesn’t make sense to buy Twitter.

  5. Vincent van Wylick says:

    This is definitely an interesting discussion, but tech apart, what it takes to get two companies to integrate properly is if both have something that the other needs. In the case of Jaiku, I’ve heard multiple times that they were struggling on the US-front and of course Google can add much value there. What value could Google add to Twitter in that sense, none, except money and less control for the Twitter-folk to follow their own vision (which they clearly have, considering the amount of venture capital they attracted). Maybe Google also wanted to benefit from Jaiku’s European presence, just like it did with Orkut and Brazil/India.

    About Google’s not being in it for mobile reach. In my opinion this new trend in microblogging actually transcends mobile & web, and acquiring Jaiku creates more “presence” on both fronts, nothing wrong with that. All signals are pointing for Google to head into that direction anyway.

    About them building Jaiku. Why build something, if you can acquire the tech, talent, & the user-base? In many ways you could say the market for micro-blogging is saturated already, and Jaiku has from what I can tell, a small but healthy community, as well as a tested technology.

    About why Jaiku and not Twitter. My guess is for the reasons Kari mentioned, open technology, etc. + the reason I mentioned in my first paragraph, that Google and Jaiku actually both benefit in ways other than money. I’m sure Jaiku was much cheaper also, considering how much venture capital was pumped into Twitter.

  6. william says:


    Thats what i was trying to explore in my post. Besides just advertising reach I am not sure why Google would opt for Jaiku over Twitter. Perhaps it is as rumors suggest that Google couldn’t get a deal done with Twitter due to some of the personalities and past history between the companies? I have NO idea.

  7. william says:


    My apologies. My fonts are so small I read your name as Karl :P

  8. Diazr » Jaiku vs. Twitter & FriendFeed says:

    [...] no tenía (ni tiene)  un mínimo porcentaje interesante con el que ser comparado. Sin embargo, en Tech IT Easy, un blog que me encontré por casualidad, nos cuentan algo interesante: For all the bloggers still [...]

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