For the last three years, there have been more than 40 acquisitions of location-oriented technology startups. Though location startups are all the rage right now, so far this year there have only been 15 deals. Could we be due for a deluge of deals?

Data from The Location Technology M&A Project, design by Infographic World.

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Location: The Epicenter of Mobile Innovation

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  1. Nokia’s next acquisition?
    In its Tech M&A blog, the 451 Group provides interesting commentary on some of these acquistions, including Nokia’s recent acquisition and subsequent divestiture of MetaCarta (apparently, Nokia paid $1.5m/engineer, “reflecting the increasing pressure that Nokia is seeing in the mobile-mapping space”). Suggesting that Nokia is still in the hunt, analyst Ben Kolada speculates that location-based advertising vendor 1020 Placecast could be the next acquisition in Nokia’s sights. See http://bit.ly/cbljRi.

  2. Apple’s acquisition of Poly9 (Canadian company that makes interactive 3-D software) just two days ago reflects massive investments by key players (Apple, Google, Nokia, Facebook, and Twitter) to unlock the tremendous potential of LBS, including the holy grail of location-based advertising. Given their aspirations, the cash to invest in acquisitions, and enormous upside potential, I believe that M&A in Geoloco over the next 12-18 months will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate.

    As the Big 5 map out and execute their mobile location strategies, the need to innovate will drive key strategic acquisitions. As I observed in my Location Innovation report (link below), “with its ability to offer location-based services – including location-determination, visual and proximity search and others – ‘for free,’ offsetting the cost through advertising and other revenue sources, Google is uniquely positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities.”

    On the other hand, Apple’s acquisition of Poly9 is intriguing – as I noted in the report below, “3-D geodata will enable new location-based applications in much the same way as early maps opened up new routes and navigation.” Despite Google’s lead in acquiring and developing strategic assets for location-based services (including Neven Vision in 2006), I wouldn’t underestimate Apple’s ability to create compelling new “experiences” that no one has yet envisioned, just as they’ve done with devices, the app store and other key pieces that have revolutionized mobile.


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