Nokia, the world’s leading handset manufacturer, has announced its intention to acquire LBS web app Plazes. Berlin-based Plazes will provide Nokia with a social mapping property for Ovi, its new web portal. Congratulations to CEO Felix Peterson and the rest of the Plazes team!
Nokia is getting a full-featured web property. Plazes has been around for a long time and has had the time to build all of the features that you need to manage your location and the network you choose to share it with. To update your location on Plazes you can use FireEagle, desktop software that automatically place you based on wifi, SMS, or their web interface. To share your location Plazes provides map widgets, an iCal feed, and KML of you and your social network. Plazes also has a social network (allowing you to set privacy levels for sharing your location), micro-blogging and an API (here are some projects from a Hack Day Plazes held).
This is just the latest acquisition in the geo area for Nokia. In 2006 they acquired Gate5, a Berlin-based startup that developed mobile mapping apps. Nokia is currently in the process of acquiring NAVTEQ, the world’s largest data mapping company (The NAVTEQ acquisition is due before the EU in August and it will likely go through – Radar post).
This acquisition is all about Ovi and Nokia’s new Software & Services business model. Plazes immediately helps fill in the mapping portion of Ovi. Whereas Music has its own store and N-Gage is a full gaming portal Maps had nothing to put on the page, but a Nokia Maps download. Soon Nokia can point to Plazes, its new Maps portal. Additionally we can theorize that Plazes will serve as the integration point to non-Nokia services and phones (friend-finder apps are only useful if all of your friends are on them, not just the ones with the same brand of phone). Nokia is coming into the geo space with a vengeance. I expect to see more acquisitions in this space from them in the near future.
Felix and I are still working out the details, but we plan on him giving a talk at the Web 2.0 Expo Europe. He’ll cover the the LBS market.