Nokia Boosts Location Services With Bit-Side Buy - InformationWeek

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1/28/2009
01:08 PM
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Nokia Boosts Location Services With Bit-Side Buy

By purchasing the media-sharing software company, Nokia is hoping to improve its Nokia Maps program.

Nokia is the world's largest cell phone manufacturer, but it has been branching out to provide services that can make its handsets more attractive, as well as provide additional revenue. With this in mind, the company said Wednesday it will acquire Bit-Side for an undisclosed amount to strengthen its location-based services.

Bit-Side is a software company that creates media-sharing programs for platforms like the iPhone, Android, and Symbian. The cell phone maker said the 39 Bit-Side employees would be integrated into Nokia's Services unit, and its services would be used mainly to improve Nokia Maps. Nokia said the deal should be completed by the end of the first quarter.

"Nokia believes that context plays a pivotal role in the evolution of the Internet," said Michael Halbherr, VP and head of social location, in a statement. "To make the Internet truly personal, Nokia is building the ability for people to always know where they are and what is around them. Moreover, to know where their friends are and what they are doing and how they are feeling."

Nokia has been increasingly integrating location technology into its handsets in order to be less reliant on services provided by mobile operators. With a sizable lead over its competitors, the world's largest cell phone manufacturer has been able to invest heavily in location-based services. Last year, it purchased the mobile social networking firm Plazes, and it spent about $8.1 billion to buy Navteq in 2007.

With the unveiling of the touch-screen N97, consumers got a peek at how Nokia plans to utilize location-based services. The smartphone has what Nokia calls social location, or So-Lo, which is a service that can automatically update social networks based on where the customer is.

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