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July 24, 2007

Nokia acquires Twango, Part 2

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 10:34 AM

I wrote a story in today's story about Nokia's acquisition of a Redmond startup, Twango, which allows people to store their digital content online.

Here's a few more details that didn't fit in today's print edition:

First off, I wrote about the company in June last year before the public launch of its product.

What's interesting to note is that Twango, founded in 2004, has spent a lot of time building a platform and doing its homework on what a service requires on the backend in order for customers to have a good experience.

That may have justified the acquisition price. Although the specific price was not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal quoted a person familiar to the deal saying that Nokia paid less than €70 million, or $96.8 million.

That's a lot when you compare it with Loudeye, a publicly held company Nokia acquired in August last year for $60 million (which itself was a far cry from the $1.4 billion Loudeye was valued at after its public offering in 2000).

Anyway, let's go back to the platform that Twango is building. It's considered an open platform, meaning it will allow other developers to take the code and build applications around it. It also uses open features, such as RSS, podcasting and maps.

Serena Glover, one of Twango's co-founders, said that could mean that even though Nokia has bought the company, a developer could still create an application for a Motorola phone using Twango's work.

The open platform allows consumers to link multiple devices, services and networks. In theory that means if those consumers use their mobile phone to upload content to the Web, they'll continue to be able to do so if they change carriers. That differs from other services on the market, such as Apple's, which requires you to use an iPod or iPhone if you buy your music on iTunes. Or applications found on one carrier aren't always available on another.

I asked Nokia's Gerard Wiener what he thought about this, and he said that follows the handset maker's vision -- it's are going after a bigger market encompassing all phones instead of just Nokia ones.

"We are big believers in open source, as well. That is the way of the Internet," he said. "Far be it for us to fight that trend. In our services strategy, open source is a critical part of that, and we are pushing for it.... If we look at even Motorola and other companies, and we look at markets, the imaging services market is where we see a significant opportunity.

"Ultimately, the consumer is our master and we want to put ourselves in the situation that involves acquiring great teams and talent like the Twango guys," he said.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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