Nokia: It Takes Web 2.0 to Twango
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has continued its advance into the Web 2.0 world of file sharing with the acquisition of Redmond-based social networking startup Twango . (See Nokia Acquires Twango.)
Financial details were not disclosed, though The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal was set to be worth no more than €70 million (US$96.7 million).
This isn't the first time Nokia has acquired a media sharing business based in the Seattle area: In August 2006 the mobile phone giant paid $60 million to buy wholesale music download services specialist Loudeye. (See Nokia to Buy Loudeye.)
And in June, Nokia's private equity arm invested in online TV startup kyte.tv . (See Nokia Invests in Kyte.tv.)
That investment and the Twango acquisition will feed into Nokia's planned Services and Software division, one of the company's three new business units that will begin operations on January 1 next year. (See Nokia Streamlines Structure and Nokia Reorganizes.)
Twango, though, operates in YouTube Inc. and MySpace territory, which is becoming increasingly crowded -- just check out how long the list of video sharing sites is on our sister site, Contentinople .
Twango, founded in 2004, which describes itself as "a free and fun place to share your photos, videos and audio," is a social networking site that allows its users to upload media files from fixed and mobile devices. Click on this link to get a snapshot of what Twango is all about.
It launched in October 2006, boasting ease of use and the ability to support more than 110 file types. For example, users can add new files to their Twango "channel" by sending an email (with attachment) from a PC or mobile device to their Twango account. Twango is believed to have quite a small user base of a few tens of thousands.
Nokia says the acquisition will give it a "seasoned team with strong social media and Web services expertise." That team, which is now set to grow, currently totals just 10 people, including the five founders, all former Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) staffers (hence the Redmond location) -- Philip Carmichael, Serena Glover, Randy Kerr, Jim Laurel, and Mike Laurel. The company has, to date, been based in Glover's house and funded entirely by the founders.
The deal allows Nokia to tap into the application development sector, as well, as Twango has made a point of publishing its API (Application Programming Interface) code so that third-party developers can create new applications to work with the Twango platform. "The API gives developers the freedom to create innovative software and services such as uploaders, mashups, and new ways to display and manipulate media stored on Twango," according to the Twango Website.
It also offers Nokia another way to generate revenues, as it plans to introduce paid-for Twango accounts in the future, though no details are available yet. The Finnish company stresses that a "free level of service" will still be available once paid services are introduced.
Nokia also plans to expand Twango internationally, as the Finnish firm expects to introduce the service in different languages and store user data outside the U.S.
The Twango name may not survive long-term, though, as Nokia says it "may decide on a name that is more suitable" as it takes the service global.
(On a possibly related note: Tango is HUGE in Finland. Coincidence?)
Nokia says it will provide details about its future plans for Twango's service some time in the first half of 2008, though it seems certain that Nokia will at least add file-sharing functionality based on Twango's code to its range of multimedia handsets.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading