Nokia to acquire social networking company

Nokia announced on Monday it plans to acquire Plazes, a privately-owned German company, for an unnamed sum, as part of its growing services push.

Plazes is developing a social networking platform which is used to plan, share and record social activities, using both PCs (Windows as well as Mac OS X operating systems) and mobile phones, via SMS (Short Message Service). Its motto is: right "plaze," right people, right time.

For example, users can create activities and let friends know what they are doing, where and when, and see what friends are up to.

"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," wrote Plazes co-founder Felix Petersen in the company's blog.

He also reassures users that despite the acquisition, the development of a new version of Plazes will continue, and the company will still release a client for the iPhone.

The interest in the integration of mobile phones and social networks is growing by the minute; recently Vodafone bought ZYB, a Danish company that runs a social network. Nokia's acquisition is likely to further fuel interest in social networks from mobile operators.

Location is key as the next generation of services start to evolve, and it's no coincidence that "right plaze" is part of Plazes' vision.

"We expect to sell 400 million devices with GPS [Global Positioning Service] in them this year alone, it's quite a sizable number, so developers can start to count on navigation being there," said Lenn Pryor, vice president for product marketing, services and software at Nokia, in a recent interview.

Nokia expects the deal to close in the third quarter 2008. After closing, Plazes will become part of Nokia's Services and Software unit, according to a statement.

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