Google: Why Jaiku and not Twitter?

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall over at Twitter HQ today, now that Google has acquired Jaiku — a mobile social-networking app that from all descriptions is pretty similar to Twitter (disclosure: I haven’t actually used Jaiku, but I do use Twitter sporadically). After all, Twitter is the one that has been getting all the geek cred from the Robert Scobles of the world, and from the sounds of it Twitter’s app has a far bigger reach.

prod-mobile.jpgSo the big question is the one that Adam Ostrow at Mashable asks in his post on the deal: Why Jaiku and not Twitter? I know that Jaiku has its fans — including Leo Laporte, who got upset that Twitter’s name was too close to the word Twit (which is the abbreviated name of his podcast This Week in Tech), and quit the network to move over to Jaiku — but there’s no question that Twitter had the name. Not only that, but Evan Williams of Twitter is a former Googler himself, having sold Blogger to the search engine giant.

Could that be part of the reason why Twitter wasn’t as good a candidate for an acquisition? In the comments on Adam’s post at Mashable, someone raises that possibility, suggesting that there might be bad blood between Evan and Google over his departure and that of other former Googlers who left to go and work at Twitter.

Charlie O’Donnell says that he sees the deal as a case of Jaiku’s founders throwing in the towel and being absorbed by the Google Borg, something he says he finds disappointing. Google did the same thing with Dodgeball — which as far as I can recall was very much like Jaiku but was developed three years ago — and the founders later left, saying they were unhappy with the lack of support from the search behemoth.

Further reading:

Marc Orchant at Blognation has some thoughts about why Google decided to acquire Jaiku instead of Twitter, and so does Tim O’Reilly. Both see Jaiku as being more about mobile “presence” rather than just being an instant-messaging style service.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.