Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nokia acquires Plazes for location-based friend alerts

Nokia just announced that it has acquired Plazes, a small German company developing a social network system based strongly on locations. Their system is mostly a small version of Twitter, but with one twist: Every status update is tagged as being at a specific location.

Even if a user updates his status by SMS, the system is built to parse out a location (based on a list of named locations) so that the person is always keyed to a location.

The system then supports SMS queries to find out which of your friends are nearby.

Their interface is lousy, especially their mobile interface, but Nokia can certainly build them a new one, based on GPS and with a mobile app on the handsets. But the key thing here is the location-orientation of their social network.

But take this one step further, and we see the AHA!

Plazes maintains a database of friends locations.

Nokia is working on mobile alerts based on important things that are nearby.

Put these two together, and we see that Nokia Maps 3.0, or 2.5 Beta, will be even cooler than we thought. Besides getting beeped whenever you're near a store that sells the asperin you need, you'll get a beep whenever you pass near a friend. And the two will be integrated into a single system for location-based alerts.

If they do it even better, the social network in Plazes will be based on the phone's address book, not a seperate social network.

This moves us into a new phase of social networks. Rather than a social network being something that we go to a special web site to use, it will be integrated into a more general cellphone feature. Contacts locations will be just like drugstore locations, all managed by a single system on the phone.

Farfetched? Fun? Comments welcome.

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