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Jaiku Latest in Google's Mysterious Acquisition Spree

Google continues its breakneck string of acquisitions, today adding micro-blogging service Jaiku to its roster.

Jaiku, which the search giant snapped up for an undisclosed sum, calls itself an "activity stream and presence sharing service." In layman's terms, it's blogging writ small: Jaiku users can post just a line or two of text to the Web -- usually a description of their current activity for others to see -- using Web browsers or mobile devices. The service also enables them to keep tabs on others' updates as well.

"Technology has made staying in touch with your friends and family both easier and harder: living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is easier (and a lot of fun), but it's more difficult to keep track of everyone when they're running around at warp speed," Google Product Manager Tony Hsieh wrote today in a blog post detailing the purchase. "That's why we're excited to announce that we've acquired Jaiku."

Few details are being released from either Google or Jaiku on the future of the micro-blogging service.

On its site, Jaiku said that it would be closing its service to new users to focus more on innovation. A limited number of new users will still be accepted to sign up for the chance to participate in an invitation-only beta test. Current users will still be able to invite new friends to the service.

It's unknown as to how Google plans to monetize its new acquisition, although at least one industry-watcher may have an idea.

Jaiku competes most directly Twitter, a more widely-known micro-blogging service that closed its last round of funding in July with an investment from New York firm Union Square Ventures. Twitter's service might be more popular, but Web 2.0 guru Tim O'Reilly said today in a blog post that he isn't surprised to see Google acquire Jaiku instead. That's chiefly because Jaiku offers advanced applications that involve presence -- the ability to detect the status of another user, such as whether they're online and available to interact.

"Jaiku isn't a 'lifestreaming' company per se," he wrote. "They are a mobile company in the business of creating smarter presence applications ... Far from being a runner up behind Twitter, [Jaiku is] a leader in a category most people haven't fully grasped yet."

O'Reilly has said that his favorite Jaiku feature is its smart address book, which pinpoints user locations based on the location of their cell phone tower.

"On the surface, Jaiku looks a lot like Twitter -- a broadcast messaging platform to a social network (although it predates Twitter), but it's far more than that," O'Reilly wrote in late September.

At any rate, the news comes as but the latest in Google's recent string of acquisitions. Late last month, the company added another uniquely named firm to its holdings, mobile messaging and social networking service Zingku.

In July, Google snapped up e-mail security and compliance provider Postini, since rolling out versions of that company's products in connection with its own Google Apps Premiere. That purchase came just a week after Google bought GrandCentral Communications, which enables users to integrate existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into a single, Web-accessible account.

Earlier this year, Google announced its intent to purchase online ad server DoubleClick. That deal has since become hotly contested on antitrust and privacy grounds by rivals like Microsoft, public-interest groups and some government regulators.