There has been a dynamic and active Jaiku community in Finland even after the service got acquired by Google in October 2007. Google acquisition has many times meant a kiss of death to many startups. The Jaiku community strongly believed Jaiku would be an exception. At least until now it did.
Among the Finnish Jaiku community there was talk about migrating to Twitter, a US based micro-blogging site, already a while back when Jaiku was down but yesterday (Link in Finnish) I saw people abandoning the ship in bigger numbers than ever before.
Why I believe this might really be the kiss of death to the Finnish born Jaiku is because I just recently shifted my own usage to become Twitter heavy without knowing about the mass exodus here in Helsinki. This is not due to one service being superior to the other, but due to something as simple as the network effect I got to witness at LeWeb in Paris. So many of my friends outside of Finland are having conversations that are relevant to me in Twitter that I can not afford to not be there.
Before I was adamant that Jaiku is a better service, but now I have come to believe that it’s just different. Where as in Jaiku the users can have long discussions threads (think Gmail), which makes the short postings just starting points of the long winding conversations, in Twitter you can’t but Tweet 140 characters at a time, making the latter service truly more limited. But the beaty of Twitter, I believe, is exactly the limitation and the fact that since it’s limited it scales as a consumable vast stream of information, which you can mold according to your own preferences. In this I mean you can build your own personal filter for the vast amount of information that is generated daily in the web, thus effectively eliminating the spam and following not just what people are explicitly saying but also feeds from news services, blogs, so on and so forth. Leo Laporte just recently touched on the same topic in This Week in Tech. Laporte was also one of the first Silicon Valley luminaries who declared Jaiku as a better service than Twitter.
The mass exodus in Finland has been mainly attributed to the downsides and difficulties that Jaiku is currently having, for example feeds not coming through and a disabled SMS service, but I believe that the bigger reason why Jaiku would eventually lose the race even here in Finland is the potential upside in communicating with the whole world instead of just with other Finns and the odd faithfull foreigner still using the service. That said, Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen built an amazing service and I still hope I see a mass exodus from Twitter back to Jaiku even though I don’t believe that happens.