Google continues to hurtle along its path to creating a social network for consumers, acquiring small Finnish startup Jaiku today for an undisclosed sum.
According to a fact sheet on its site, Jaiku enables users to post thoughts, converse, and share photos, blog entries and other digital stuff with friends.
In other words, Jaiku's software enables microblogs, or short text messages used to update those in a social network on what's new. This network tends to be smaller than the thousands of readers and participants of a typical blog, and messages can be segmented to single users or for the group.
Twitter, the granddaddy of microblogs, is the best-known specialist in this space, but according to articles by several news outlets in the last year, Jaiku has got the best mobile applications.
A Jaiku spokesperson said Jaiku's user base has climbed to the tens of thousands since the service launched in July 2006. The spokesperson said Jaiku links directly into a member's address book so users can tell the last time another member used his or her phone, as well as where that member is, because the phone cues into the mobile tower.
Jaiku is not taking on any new users, although all of the Jaiku services will continue to run. Just as it has been with its alleged mobile phone, Google is being characteristically hush-hush on its plans for the company.
"Although we don't have definite plans to announce at this time, we're excited about helping drive the next round of developments in Web and mobile technology," wrote Google Product Manager Tony Hsieh in a blog post. Google said it will work with the Jaiku team over the coming months to expand the technology.
If Google is indeed going to introduce a mobile phone and platform, Jaiku would likely be a core service, particularly when paired with the Zingku mobile social networking assets Google grabbed last month that let users create and share invitations using applications on their mobile phones.
Looking further down the road, it will be interesting to see how these mobile social networking tools fit into the alleged Orkut social networking platform Google is rumored to be working on.