Nokia Buys Social Networking Site Plazes

Nokia said on Monday it would buy social networking start-up Plazes -- a smaller rival to services like Twitter and Jaiku -- as part of the world's top cellphone maker's push into Internet services.


Plazes provides location-aware services that people can use to plan, record, and share their social activities.

Nokia did not disclose the value of the deal with the company, which has a staff of 13 and its main operations in Berlin.

"This acquisition helps Nokia to accelerate its vision of bringing people and places closer together, in line with our broader services strategy," Niklas Savander, the head of Nokia's Internet services, said in a statement.

Plazes also links to services like Twitter which provide instant-messaging tools for Web and mobile phone users to keep track of their friends' daily activities.

"Their key know-how is in the social networking ... We can develop that for our Nokia Maps service," Kari Tuutti, a Nokia spokesman, said.

"Our whole Ovi strategy is based on creating open links to all popular social networking sites," he said.

Companies such as Plazes are trying to tap into the potential for new services as more mobile phones get equipped with technology to pinpoint their location.

Nokia has said it would have dozens of such phone models to offer by the end of this year and it expects to sell 35 million GPS-enabled phones this year.

"If all goes well, in the near future Plazes will be made available to millions of Nokia customers both online and on millions of mobile devices," Plazes said in a statement.

To achieve new growth as the cellphone business is set to mature in coming years Nokia started to invest heavily in building up its presence in Internet services.

It has offered $8.1 billion for U.S. digital maps firm Navteq -- a cornerstone of its services push -- and has said it would invest millions more this year and next.

"We are seeing Web 2.0 behavior from Nokia here - identify a small start-up with a nugget of technology and buy it before anyone else gets it," said Ben Wood, a director at research firm CCS Insight.