Finnish short messaging and microblogging service Jaiku has been acquired by Google, the company says. That Google bought this competitor of Twitter, the service founded by Blogger founder Evan Williams, instead of Twitter is notable. Jaiku may be stronger on the mobile platform than Twitter and probably came at a much lower price.
Google has been rolling up no end of very young mobile services; while the comparison with the Dodgeball acquisition, which ended up going nowhere, is inevitable - I think there's a lot more going on this time around. For one thing, Jaiku will now have access to scaling that Twitter could desperately use.
For background on Jaiku, I recommend this video interview by the new European outfit Intruders.tv with company founder Jyri Engestrom, trained as a sociologist and formerly from Nokia.
RedMonk analyst James Governor, who has blogged extensively about the business value of Jaiku competitor Twitter and whose Twitter feed I learned about the acquisition from, has some interesting thoughts on the news. Governor says he'd like to see RIM buy Twitter but thinks Yahoo! is much more likely. He says the Jaiku mobile download could be a key addition to the Google Phone kernel but fears that all the leading microblogging services will be quickly overrun with commercial messages. I think that's a valid concern and worry that ads could drown out the links I Twitter promoting my blog posts. (Joking.) All of Twitter is lit up with conversation on the acquisition, according the the tracking service Twitterverse, the hottest word across Twitter in the last hour is Jaiku. There's more good discussion there than I can post here.
With easy group creation, RSS import and threaded conversation, amongst other features, Jaiku is probably a superior service to Twitter. Twitter's API and large US community offers its own advantages for some users. Unfortunately, new accounts have been throttled at Jaiku with news of the announcement. That seems like a move that's a bit hostile to the early adopter types who are following this news now and a real lost opportunity.
Update: Here's the official Google statement about this exciting news.