Blog Post

Nokia plays the Twango

[qi:064] One has to give Nokia credit for recognizing very early-on that it is the software that separates men from toys – sorry, I meant premium brand phones from mere mobiles. It started off integrating Flickr and various other services with its phones, and today it took a step further.

The company acquired Redmond, Wash.-based start-up, Twango – a combo of YouTube, Flickr, Shutterfly, Photobucket and Xdrive – for about $96.8 million.

That’s a whole lot of money for a company which no one really seems to have cared about much. Liz had previously covered the company started by five Microsoft refugees.

Nokia has designs on a group that captures the upside offered by web services, including music services. Nokia had previously bought Loudeye for $60 million, and gate5, a navigation data company for an undisclosed amount. Nokia, like most handset makers is finding itself in an awkward position – squeezed by the carriers who want to put their own services on the handsets and turn the device makers into simple “gear” providers.

At the same time it is also seeing web giants like Google trying to come into its domain and squeeze it out by offering mobilized web services. The challenge for Nokia will be to integrate all these services into its phones and its increasingly cluttered Symbian OS, make them simple and yet at the same time find out a way to figure out a way to keep its carrier partners happy. That is by no means an easy task.

Related: Twango, for a late bloom.

15 Responses to “Nokia plays the Twango”

  1. I was a satisfied user of Twango as a media host for my blog for about a year. Without warning Twango stopped hosting the player. Supposedly it was to be for a few weeks but it has continued since the Nokia deal.

    I suppose this is all about Nokia rather than making any pretense of Twango becoming a serious alternative to Youtube as they did at the beginning.

    Too bad. I’m switching everything to youtube. It was good while it lasted.

  2. “Notice how Verizon is mandating a Verizon user interface on all their devices.”

    Yes, I have noticed this, which is why I’d never EVER use Verizon. It’s impressive how a company can take a phone with a perfectly good UI and turn it into garbage.

  3. e61i_fan

    most of the phones nokia ships aren’t through a carrier. shipping a phone with a carrier attached is primarily a US thing.

    nokia is making some smart moves. they have more distribution than almost anyone in the world and they can leverage it to compete with yahoo, goog, etc.

  4. Its funny how Nokia keeps trying to go around the carrier – first Club Nokia and now with photos. How will they make money from this if the carrier says to Nokia, sorry you cannot put any links on the device to give users access to Twango if you want to sell on phone to me. Notice how Verizon is mandating a Verizon user interface on all their devices.

  5. Shakir Razak

    American carriers are the worst at crippling, but not unique.

    The thing that carriers internationally are starting to work out is that as long as they get data-revenue, then they can deal with it.

    Also, Nokia, with its wide industry-experience, unlike the arrogance of u.s. web-companies, is able to handle white-labelling and working with the carriers, -it’s had to work that fine line between supplying and competing since gprs started spreading.

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak

  6. johndoe

    WSJ indicates the deal is worth no more than ~97M. Isn’t it slightly ridiculous that this deal could have been valued higher than the Loudeye acquisition? Twango doesn’t even have 1M users!

  7. The problem in America is that several of Nokia’s best handsets are too full featured. The control-hungry carriers don’t like this and don’t sell these models. So you either have to:

    A) Buy an unlocked version without a subsidized price. This would be fine, but often times you can’t take full advantage of a carrier’s service unless you buy one of their phones.

    B) Buy a perfectly fine Nokia phone with a UI and features that are crippled by the carrier. Verizon rules at this, btw. UIs fear Verizon and its powerful ability to negate elegance and productivity.

    C) Go with a different brand.

    It’s a shame, because Nokia has some brilliant stuff…that works better in Europe and Asia.

    sigh