Jaiku bought by Google

BREAKING NEWS: Jaiku, the Twitter-like service from Finland, has been bought by Google.

Jaiku Founders Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen today posted this on their homepage:

“While it’s too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together. In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now. But fear not, all our Jaiku services will stay running the way you are used to and you will be able to invite your friends to Jaiku.”

The terms of the acquisition have not been released.

This is a fascinating move by Google which would have looked at Twitter prior to this acquisition, and Twitter’s recent $5 million series A funding last July.

The Finland-based SMS and microblogging service has long been regarded by aficionados as the better service in that it has a fairly sophisticated mobile application for the Symbian/Nokia platform, and allows more web-like commenting on its blogs, as opposed to Twitter’s more simplistic “@” replies. Jaiku’s client application for the Nokia S60 can be used to replace the Contacts program and enables automatic broadcast of your presence based on your availability and profile. You can also update your Jaiku page via the app respond to your Jaiku friends posts.

There will be inevitable comparison’s with Google’s acquisition of Dodgeball, which largely came to nothing, but it would appear that the time for social networking and blogging via mobile has come, and Google’s ability to add scale and marketing muscle to Jaiku should be putting Twitter on the back-foot right now. In addition, Jaiku – and in particular Jyri Engeström’s previous experience as a senior at Nokia – is going to help Google with its gPhone project.

A further statement clearly coming from Google read: “Activity streams and mobile presence are important areas where we believe Google can add a lot of value for users. Jaiku’s technology and talented team are a great addition to Google’s current application and mobile teams.”

It went on to say: “We are excited to welcome the Jaiku employees into Google. While it’s too soon to comment on specific products and development plans, we’ll be working with the Jaiku team over the coming months to expand their technology in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful.”

Jaiku will continue to support its existing user base but new user registrations have been closed, though some beta users will still be able to get an invite.

Jaiku was founded in February, 2006, one month before Twitter, and launched a service that July.