Google Buys Twitter-like Jaiku

Google has just purchased Jaiku, a Finnish “activity stream”/microblogging service similar to Twitter, for an undisclosed sum. This follows rumors late last month that Google will reveal a Facebook-killing social media service on November 5. From the Jaiku Q&A:

While it’s too soon to comment on specific products and development plans, we’ll be working with the Jaiku team over the coming months to expand their technology in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. Check back in a few months to see what we’ve developed.

Twitter was co-founded by Evan Williams, one of the creators of Google-purchased Blogger, and some bloggers are wondering why Google didn’t buy Twitter instead. I haven’t used Twitter very much, but the “channels” feature in Jaiku makes it seem more intuitively network-y. It’s still hard to imagine Google’s current social network, Orkut, as a Facebook killer because it’s just so hard to look at, though according to a recent BusinessWeek article, Orkut continues to pick up steam internationally:

Though MySpace still gets four times as much traffic globally, Orkut recently pushed past the News Corp. (NWS) subsidiary in the Asia Pacific region. Orkut’s following in that market, which includes China and Japan, has nearly tripled, to roughly 11 million visitors a month, over the past year, according to the consultancy comScore (SCOR). MySpace, by contrast, has been drawing between 9 million and 10 million visitors in recent months.

Meanwhile, Orkut’s usage in Latin America has continued to climb: In August, it received 12.4 million unique visitors from that region, double the Latin American traffic of MySpace and Facebook combined. “Now everybody’s got Orkut, even people who don’t have their own computer,” says 15-year-old Ian Quinonez Gaspar, who lives in São Paulo, Brazil, and has more than 700 friends links.

Perhaps working with Jaiku to build something “interesting and useful” will give Google’s Orkut the edge to convince more people to join up stateside. And if it doesn’t become a Facebook killer, may Google instead become a Twitter killer?

Incidentally, reports that Twitter may be testing ads also emerged yesterday.

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