Is Google backing away from its ambitions to be a next generation communications player? After acquiring Jaiku and GrandCentral in 2007, Dodgeball in 2005, and releasing Google Talk in 2005, it looked as if the company was readying plans to be a dominant real-time communications utility. As of yesterday, however, it seems those plans may be being shelved as Jaiku and Dodgeball are both being effectively mothballed. According to Google Engineering VP Vic Gundotra, Jaiku will go open source, and Dodgeball be shuttered. Moreover, the GrandCentral blog hasn’t been updated since April 2008?
What’s up Google?
One can only assume that the company has conceded that the real time messaging space Jaiku played in has been effectively won by Twitter. Standalone status messages themselves may be short-lived. Facebook has had status integrated for a very long time, and Skype recently introduced the same feature in its Mac client. Google may have concluded that the opportunity represented by Jaiku has passed them by.
And what of Dodgeball, the mobile location based status application? Why didn’t these features make their way into Android, where they logically belong? Why wasn’t there a Dodgeball for iPhone? Why didn’t Dodgeball itself integrate with the GPS devices that are now omnipresent on phones?
As the company focuses its communications future on the Android platform, does the omission of prior assets and developed releases like Dodgeball, Jaiku, GrandCentral and GoogleTalk mean that these are all destined for the scrapheap?