As 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.