Earlier this week Google announced that several products will be shut down or will be modified. Included in the list were two social services: Jaiku and Dodgeball.Jaiku is a Twitter-like service that was acquired by Google in late 2007. Dodgeball is a location-based meeting service that was acquired by Google in May 2005. The Dodgeball founders quit Google in April 2007 and both were vocal that they weren't happy with how Google was handling the service.
Both services have loyal users who have been vocal in this displeasure about the Google announcements. So what will happen to both services?
Jaiku founder Jyri Engestrom explains in a blog post today what will happen to Jaiku. First, the Jaiku site and users will still be able to use the service. What Jyri doesn't note is whether new users will be able to sign up for the service which has been in invite-only mode since the Google acquisition in 2007. Second, Jyri explains that the codebase (including the current site) will move to the Google App Engine. The Jaiku code will become open source, which means developers can build clones of Twitter whenever they like. All of the sites created with the Jaiku code also will need to be live on the Google App Engine. My guess is that we will see a lot of activity with the new Jaiku open source code.
Jyri explains that there won't be any full-time Google employees on the project, but there are Google volunteers (overtime?) who will help as needed. Frankly, if I was a Jaiku user, this would be the time I would be packing my suitcase and heading for a system that will be supported. Why build tons of relationships on a service that has no corporate support?
Dodgeball founder Dennis Crowley posted that if Google does shut down the Dodgeball service, he will build a clone. Brightkite seems to have caught on as a replacement for new users looking for a location-based meeting service. Crowley says that he will build the clone before the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in March. Crowley also wants the domain back, which I doubt Google will be willing to part with.
Both services and the developers that will build upon Jaiku will need more lift than when they originally launched because there are more players in the market today. In addition, many users already are set with the services they are using and it will take more than a small increase in functionality to get them to switch.