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Nokia stepping up social networking game?

Is Nokia set to acquire Dopplr?

Social networking seems high on the agenda these days among the operator and handset vendor communities alike.

First we had Vodafone announcing its 360 platform, which at least one analyst has compared to Nokia’s initial Ovi announcement in 2007. There are key differences in that Vodafone is positioning social networking at the core of 360, but more as an aggregator than a whole new social network as Ovi tried to do.

Yet it seems the Finnish handset giant is pressing on with its plan. The rumour circulating on Thursday is that Nokia has snapped up travel-focused social network Dopplr, which is run, incidentally, by ex-Nokia director of design strategy, Marko Ahtisaari.

Dopplr fills the niche of ‘intention broadcasting’ rather than status broadcasting, whereby users publish details of where they are travelling to, with the aim of discovering coincidences in the travel plans of their network of contacts.

The purchase price is thought to be between €10m and €15m, which is also thought to be less than Ahtisaari was hoping for. Both Nokia and Dopplr are keeping quiet, but the move fits in with Nokia’s rash of acquisitions in this space. Earlier this month, Nokia bought cloud-based social media sharing and messaging service Plum, and that was in the wake of the acquisitions of Cellity and Bit-Side earlier this year. In 2008 there was the acquisition of Plazes, and prior to that, Twango.

However, Nokia’s main foray into the social network space with its own platform – Mosh – was ill fated and the meeting place recently closed its doors.

So it’s no surprise that IDC analysts John Delaney and Jonathan Arber think the operators may have an edge here in their ability to leverage their network assets. “Given the speed with which consumers are realising the potential of the mobile handset as a social networking platform, Vodafone has clearly seen an opportunity to use its network assets to offer its customers an enhanced experience,” the analysts said on the announcement of Vodafone 360.

“It is focusing on allowing users to bring together contacts and content from their existing social networks, and to share content to these networks. This focus on enhancing, rather than replacing, customers’ social networks and services is something we expect to see more of from other operators in the coming months,” IDC said.

  • Nokia Corporation


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