Optical/IP Networks

Nokia Buys Social-Networking Startup

In the race to deliver the best mobile Web experience, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has snapped up a small social-networking travel startup called Dopplr, for an undisclosed sum.

The move comes hot on the heels of Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s major revamp of its own mobile Internet services, called 360, and its shift to a more Web 2.0-based approach. (See Vodafone Live! Is Dead!)

Like its mobile operator customers, Nokia is stepping up its services game too. (See Is Nokia's Ovi Finnish'd?)

While today's acquisition may look like just the latest in Nokia's Internet services spending spree, Dopplr's technology ties in with some of Nokia's previous buys, according to Paolo Pescatore, director of operator strategy, applications, and content at CCS Insight .

"Dopplr offers services to travelers, and one of Nokia's big assets is maps through NavTeq," he says, explaining that Nokia could blend its maps with presence and social-networking features. "[That's a] clear route Nokia wants to pursue." (See Nokia Beefs Up Map, Messaging Services.)

Dopplr, with its team of seven people, describes itself as a "social atlas." Travelers enter in their trip and journey details for their network of friends, and Dopplr provides details on the best and coolest hotels, restaurants, things to do, and places to see for cities around the world. The service can be used on mobile phones or PCs. Dopplr is available as an iPhone app and is also integrated into Flickr and Twitter.

Nokia said in a press statement today that the acquisition does not change the Dopplr service. But it is not clear exactly what Nokia plans to do with it.

"The challenge for Nokia is the execution," says Pescatore. "Nokia always encounters execution problems at launch."

And for a quick refresher, here are the details of Nokia's recent buying binge: — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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