June 24, 2008

Plazes Brings Networks to Nokia

By Sarah Arnott

Nokia bought Plazes, a German social networking start-up, yesterday, bringing the possibility of phone alerts from friends that they are just around the corner a step closer.

Existing major players, such as Facebook or MySpace, are already accessible using an internet-enabled mobile phone. But the Plazes technology could help Nokia take the social networking model to the next level because it is location-specific, enabling members to alert friends of their activity and location, in the past, present and future.

The Finnish group is the world's biggest handset maker, with a staggering 40 per cent of the global market. The company also wants to lead in mobile internet services and the Plazes purchase fits into Ovi, its strategy for managing content such as music, photos and maps - as well as social networks - on a phone and computer.

"This acquisition helps accelerate the vision of bringing people and places closer together, in line with our broader services strategy," said Niklas Savander, the head of Nokia Services and Software.

Windsor Holden, from Juniper Research, said: "Nokia's rivals are struggling in its wake. The big brands are trying to increase their grip across the value chain but no other traditional handset company has shown Nokia's imagination."

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