Google has acquired Jaiku. The Finnish service (what do you call it? a microaggregator?) pulls in feeds from your various web presences and turns it into a lifestream. My Jaiku profile hauls in a bunch of news from the various dispersed places I put thing.
I have about 30 friends I'm following on Jaiku, which is tiny compared to the rest of my use of these sorts of things. My use of it in the past has been some part backup relief valve for when Twitter is down, and part keeping in touch with a more European crowd.
The analysis of the Jaiku acquistion is happening in real time to the right hand side of my screen on Twitter. Ross Mayfield expects that Jaiku competes with Facebook's Social News Feed, and notes that integration with Google Talk adn Orkut is perfectly reasonable. Steve Rubel predicts that Twitter is the next to go and suggests that Yahoo will snap them up inside 45 days. There's the usual undercurrent of groaning about yet another chance for a cool service to be swallowed in the maws of a huge company, with the memory of Dodgeball fresh in mind.
Jaiku did some work to integrate with Nokia's Series 60 phones, and they have a mobile version for ordinary mobile phones. My early take on it compares it head on with Twitter's mobile version, which is much more awesome for me in part because it has my motley assortment of Ann Arborites, librarians, web geeks and fellow bus riders to help me get through the day in real time. I don't have that collection of people on Jaiku, and thus for me it does not have the same real time feel.
The other point of comparison is Jaiku vs. Facebook's tools for aggregating information about yourself. I don't know any other tool out there that quite so neatly pulls in abbreviated versions of the things you're up to and consolidates them quite so well as a personal chronology and record. This "lifestream" approach is nicely done, compact, and useful, and they figured out search optimization enough so that every so often I get Jaiku as a referrer for something I've written and have it show up high in search results. Facebook feels like it needs constant tending, but Jaiku can run in the background and passively gather the stuff you're doing on the open network and pull back 1% of it to keep a record.
With the current froth around Facebook and thus by extension all close substitutes for it I'm not surprised by this acquisition. Jaiku is much more a tool that belongs on and lives in the open Internet than Facebook. If you were to roll back the clock and make a comparison, it would be between AOL or Compuserve back in the day in the Facebook seat, and Usenet, home pages, email lists and What's New pages in the rest-of-the-world seat. Last time, AOL lost and the net won, but it won only by mostly destroying itself and remaking itself in the process. This time who knows.