Last week, Google announced that the company was unceremoniously discontinuing or at least ceasing development of a number of services it had launched or acquired in the past, including Google Video, Notebook, Catalog Search, Dodgeball and The Mashup Editor. The shutdown of the latter two was announced on the Google Code blog by VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra, along with some explanation regarding microblogging Jaiku, which many tech blogs and news outlets reported was merely being kept alive without further plans for the Twitteresque service.
Jaiku founder Jyri Engeström responded to the reports today in a blog post claiming that the service – which has always remained invite-only ever since its launch even after Google’s acquisition in 2007 – is actually going to serve for something more interesting than he set it out to be, and I think he’s got a point. As we wrote before, Jaiku will be ported to Google App Engine (something which had already been initiated months ago) and all of its code will be released under the Apache license, while existing accounts will still be able to use the tool the same way they’ve been able to ever since it launched.
But few people seem to care that handing out the code to the open source community and starting the ‘Jaiku Engine’ project is actually great news for companies, groups and individuals who were looking to roll their own, decentralized microsharing / lifestreaming applications, initiatives we’ve seen pop up here and there already (e.g. Laconica / identi.ca, which just received seed funding and Yonkly). For better or worse, the Jaiku Engine will include support for OAuth, something Twitter users and developers have been desperately asking the San Francisco startup to add preferably sooner than later. I’m quite sure this will prove more interesting in the long run than what most people expected Jaiku’s future to hold.
So Google did not acquire Jaiku in order to launch a Twitter competitor, but does that matter?
In Jyri’s words:
Soon, anyone, for free and with little effort, will be able to install and modify the Jaiku code, launch it on App Engine, and run their own microblogging platform. Combine that decentralization with standards such as OAuth and the forthcoming activity stream standards, and what we’re seeing here is the accelerating trend away from microblogging being a destination to microblogging being a pervasive and ubiquitous part of the fabric of the web itself.
Let’s wait and see, but I for one am curious to find out.