For almost a year now, Google has been in the process of porting Jaiku over to Google App Engine. The process is now complete, and the new JaikuEngine has been launched on Google Code, as an open source project that they hope will turn into a Twitter competitor.
JaikuEngine will enable users at the individual, group and organisation levels to run their own micro blogging services through the Google App Engine. Although Google will stop developing the Jaiku code base, Google volunteers will continue to offer support. The JaikuEngine will also provide support to open standard authentication, which Twitter is already using. This will thus allow the creation of a freely available open source micro-blogging service.
Since the time Google acquired Jaiku in October 2007, for an estimated $12 million, they have been see-sawing between shutting down the service almost immediately and then trying to restart it last August. Now the uncertainty is over and it is finally being handed over to the open source community.
Google surely hopes to be able to compete with the current darling of the social media spotlight, Twitter, by opening up its own micro-blogging service so that the open source community can mould it as they see fit.
Initial user and developer reactions have been mixed. Users seem to think that the loss of international SMS functionality would leave Jaiku with almost no desirable features to draw users away from Twitter. Developers, though, seem more upbeat about the opportunity to take micro-blogging to the next level.
From a business point of view, the acquisition of Twitter definitely looks like one of Google’s many recently admitted failures (think Dodgeball, Audio Ads, Google Video)
Jaiku co-founder, Jyri Engestrom, believes “it’s time to break out and distribute micro-blogs… There should be lots of platforms, and they should talk to each other.”