Robin Wauters at TechCrunch today continues to push the line on this narrative the rest at TC and other blogs seem to have been trying to insinuate lately: Google has popped it’s cherry, has jumped the shark, and is beginning the slow slide away from innovator and into whatever category most people put Microsoft and IBM in these days. The tool they’re using to shoehorn this idea down our throats with is the pending Open-Sourcing of Jaiku.
Google’s got a lot going on, and they’re still one of the world’s capital for pure blue-sky R&D, when it comes to technology and a lot of things not even related to tech.
The real question here is whether or not there’s a market for what they’re trying to turn Jaiku into or not. The best I can tell, they’re trying to create an open source utility that will fill the void for Enterprise 2.0-grade intra-company status-microblogging.
While the idea certainly fills a week’s quota of hyphenated buzzwords, I don’t think it really fills any sort of need. Twitter is great for a large number of things, from news applications to straight-up one-to-one and one-to-many communications.
Does it do anything for us that can’t be more adeptly accomplished by other, pre-existing utilities? I say no.
Enterprise Status Microblogging. Whoopee.
It was why I was so puzzled when Yammer won the TC50, and then like lemmings, every organization I belonged to online started sending me invites to participate in their Yammer networks. These were organizations that already had private Google Groups set up, or Utterli private groups, or even already had 100% persistent auto-logging chatrooms.
There are hundreds of ways to skin the cat of telecommuting company’s group messaging, and I really don’t see how limiting conversations to 160 characters really solves the problem at all.
I can see, given how everyone’s drank the Kool-Aid on this one, why the folks at Google might think this is the great white hope for Jaiku, but even they must be pretty half-hearted in their belief that this is going to be the next killer app (if, indeed, corporate solutions is their true aim for the product).
Here’s what Jaiku founder Jyri Engeström said on his blog today regarding all of that:
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.
To me, this says less about the possibility of corporate microblogging and more about the fact that the kids at Jaiku and Google may not get the concept behind the live web or Twitter … still.
For the record, the reason all the Twitter clones haven’t taken off (and why would-be Twitter usurper FriendFeed has taken off) is the community contained there-in. Jaiku just never achieved sufficient saturation or critical mass to spiral out like FriendFeed and Twitter did.
Google Needs to Swallow Their Pride and Do What They Do
Scobleizer and a few others like to pontificate on how Google is losing the race for the live web. We’ve only had the live web in a real way for a short minute now, so I think it’s a little early to brand Google with the Fail Whale.
On the other hand, they aren’t exactly on the right track at the moment. They’ve a couple of fingers dipped into the pools of the live web business, and neither one is really doing much significant at the moment.
Jaiku is one of them, and it’s not going to un-seat, well, anything any time soon. The other is Google Friend Connect, which as I discussed a while back, a good start towards a lifestreaming product, but is definitely no Jedi yet.
Has Google jumped the shark yet though? I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion. I’m working on a much longer piece that addresses the business issues that Google’s working through at the moment, but in terms of overall strategy, in the face of everything else that works for the company, they aren’t far enough behind the curve here to really say they’re down for the count.
Instead of focusing on creating a competing Twitter in Jaiku or even creating a competitor to other non-starters like Yammer, they need to work on aggregating the live web in useful ways, something that may run contrary to their instincts since it can be easily done with publicly available mashup utilities and doesn’t require an engineering degree to accomplish.
They need to swallow their pride, though, and get on it or get left behind.