Search: Digital Future

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Google's First Move into Applications You Take With You

While speculative, Google continues to eye the future. And that future is portable applications - particularly those that can be accessed via mobile or social networking sites.

I expect that Google's purchase of Jaiku (a competitor to Twitter) will be the first of a number of acquisitions of a social networking or mobile application focused on the growth potential, rather than a purchase of a company with real revenues and a solid business model. While there's certainly a "dotcom boom" feeling of the late 1990's, there's little chance that such an acquisition won't turn into revenue gold for Google.

Google Buys 'Micro-Blogging' Service Jaiku

Similar to Twitter, another broadcast messaging platform to social networks, Jaiku has become popular with a small subset of the digirati in this country.

By Richard Martin, InformationWeek, October 9, 2007 01:00 PM

Continuing to build its portfolio of mobile services and applications, Google(GOOG) Tuesday said it has purchased Jaiku, a Helsinki-based provider of "mobile social networking" features. The terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed.

Founded in February 2006 by Finnish entrepreneurs Jyri Engestrom and Petteri Koponen, Jaiku allows users to continuously update their "activity stream" (brief telegraphic messages on their current whereabouts and doings) over PCs, laptops, or mobile phones. Perhaps more important, it also gives "presence information" of other users -- i.e., their current availability and the status of their mobile phone. Jaiku software divines a person's location from nearby cell towers.

Similar to Twitter, another broadcast messaging platform to social networks, Jaiku has become popular with a small subset of the digirati in this country.

"On the surface, Jaiku looks a lot like Twitter," wrote technology publisher Tim O'Reilly on his blog recently, "but it's far more than that."

The Jaiku presence-aware technology could be integrated with existing Google products such as Gmail, Google Talk, or unified communications application GrandCentral, also acquired by Google earlier this year. Google's search technology also could be applied to make the Jaiku user experience more powerful.

Without commenting on specific plans, Google product manager Tony Hsieh wrote on the company's blog, "We plan to use the ideas and technology behind Jaiku to make compelling and useful products."

The Jaiku acquisition is the latest in a string of Google purchases of mobile applications providers including GrandCentral (bought in July) and Zingku (another mobile social networking provider, bought last month). Google also has partnered with Sprint Nextel to create a "mobile portal" for the wireless carrier's WiMax network, currently under construction, and has said it will likely bid in the upcoming FCC auction of valuable spectrum in the 700-MHz band.

On Monday, Google said it will expand the market for ad-supported online video beyond YouTube by enabling Web site publishers to run YouTube videos, accompanied by ads, on their own sites.
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