Nokia acquisitions: Navteq, Plazes and Symbian

Nokia has announced three interesting acquisitions in the last 9 months:

Navteq is the leading provider of Maps data for GPS, mobile devices and Internet. This acquisition will allow Nokia to provide improved location-based services and at the same time making it harder for competitors to get this data. Smart move! It looks like the acquisition hasn’t closed yet and is still undergoing regulatory approval.

I first heard of Plazes back in June 2006 from Laurent Haug. The basic idea at the time was to have members report their location and record their IP address (or subnet). The system would then assume that any visitor with a similar IP is in the same location. They extended this to mobile phones and cell towers if I remember correctly. A dedicated community emerged on Plazes (basically a social network around places). I didn’t end up using the service on a regular basis after trying it out. It looks like the product has come a long way since then and is now more centered around organizing social activities (with a corresponding place and time).

These two companies combined are a great foundation for location based services and applications! However turning acquisitions into new and exciting products is always a huge challenge. It’s been too quiet around Google and Dodgeball or GrandCentral for example.

The latest announcement is the acquisition of the remaining shares of Symbian to create the Symbian foundation [press release] and partially open source the OS. An interesting move given Google’s Android project and other closed source OS for mobile devices. It looks like Nokia wants to ensure that Symbian survives as an independent OS.

Nokia’s shares have been on a downward trend for a while now. I hope these acquisitons will start the turnaround.

Disclaimer: I have owned several Nokia phones and the brand has always kept a special spot in my heart. I do not own a Nokia phone (or shares) right now. And I’m eyeing an iPhone.

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