What on earth has Google (NSDQ: GOOG) done to Jaiku? Since the nascent mobile microblogging tool was bought by Mountain View back in October 2007, when it almost posed a credible threat to Twitter, the big “G” has given precious little attention to the Finnish startup, causing some fans to fret about Jaiku imitating Google’s ill-fated Dodgeball acquisition.
Writing on his blog today, founder Jyri Engeström acknowledged Jaiku on Google’s watch had become a mere 20 percent time project, “meaning it has been getting about one day a week of my time”. In other words, Google bought Jaiku but asked Engeström, formerly of Nokia (NYSE: NOK), to continue development only in the personal development time given to Google engineers. In that time, Twitter has all but cornered the microblogging/status update segment despite its more limited feature set, and the Engeström household has given birth. “Your concern about the future of the service is legitimate,” he wrote. “(Jaiku’s) velocity has not been as high as I had hoped … Google isn’t staffing up Jaiku.com.”
Engeström said his time had mainly been spent developing Google’s user profiles infrastructure and other “social objects”. But he said no-one had deviated from the plan to port Jaiku to Google’s App Engine, announced this April, six months after the acquisition, reminding readers of the acquisition’s original intention that “activity streams and mobile presence are important areas where we believe Google can add a lot of value for users”. Engeström said: “In spite of the decision to not throw resources at building Jaiku into an independent Web brand … this statement still holds true, and you can bet your Android that there are completely new Wow!’s in store.”
(Photo: Joi Ito, CC, some rights reserved)