Damn you, Indecision!

Missed opportunities: Android could have been the most social mobile OS in the world – Know Your Cell

When Google announced that it had acquired microblogging platform Jaiku back in October of 2007, I was impressed. With rumors of an impending mobile-related announcement boiling over, it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that Google had made a brilliant move.

One short month later, the Open Handset Alliance was announced along with the Android OS, and the endgame was obvious: Google was about to change the way we use smartphones to interact. It would use the Jaiku platform to breathe life into mobile phonebooks. It would keep us connected to our contacts at all times. It would allow us to easily track and interact with individual contacts or groups of contacts like never before. It would make Android the most social mobile OS on the planet.

Here we are in February of 2010, and the reality is just the opposite.

This is a great post from a friend of mine who I actually met via Jaiku (but have yet to meet in real life). Back in its heyday, Jaiku was an awesome place to have great conversations. And since people used to be able to import various other services, like Flickr, Twitter, and other sites that had RSS feeds, Jaiku was a true lifestream. I consider it to be FriendFeed’s predecessor, since Jaiku used to do everything that FriendFeed does now. My adoption of FriendFeed was begrudging at first, since I was irritated that FF was getting a lot of buzz from the social networking A-listers, but seemed to be the same (a tad stripped down compared to Jaiku at its peak) as Jaiku, which was getting bad-mouthed for no reason. ๐Ÿ˜›

Beyond its website, though, Jaiku used to have a kickass S60 client that not only allowed you to monitor and respond to convo threads on Jaiku, but also served as an enhanced contact list on your smartphone that would show you in real-time whether your friends were online — idle or busy — and if they chose to show it, their current location. It was a sort of like a mashup of certain services that are popular now — like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp (to a certain degree), and even Google Latitude. However, a user’s status on the Jaiku app was updated automatically (IIRC) using your calendar information and your phone’s GPS, instead of you needing to update your location manually via check-ins.

Clearly Google wanted the Jaiku founders’ vision of social networking and online presence when they bought out Jaiku, but so far, I haven’t seen anything major come out of this. Sure, Google Latitude came out, but I don’t know many people who are using it. Google Buzz is the new social networking product that’s garnering a lot of “buzz”, but it’s slowly getting rolled out over the next few days, so not many of my contacts are using it yet. I’ll keep my eye on it, as I do most Google products, since I am firmly entrenched in the Google suite, despite some of my irritation with how they’ve handled Jaiku. I wonder if the mobile client versions for Buzz will ever be like Jaiku’s mobile client? That would be great, especially if it gets my Jaiku buddies conversing together again. They’re a great bunch. ๐Ÿ™‚

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