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Of Zingku, Orkut and Google

[qi:83] Google (GOOG) is acquiring certain assets and technology of Zingku, a mobile social network startup that helps users organize their social life via the web and text messaging. Zingku wrote about the deal on its site, and a Google spokesperson confirmed the plans. Zingku, a Boston-based startup was co-founded by Sami Shalabi. The service has been in private beta and new user accounts are currently frozen.

What is Google’s motivation to acquire this little known company? One explanation would be to get talented engineers, but we suspect it would be to bolster their Orkut social network. Zingku is an SMS-turbocharger of sort. While Google lost out to the king and queen of social networking in the U.S. (that’d be MySpace and Facebook), their Orkut is extremely popular in Brazil and India.

These are two countries, where basic phones and text messaging reign supreme and wireless broadband options are less common. Furthermore, Google has plans to roll out a mobile phone that takes true advantage of the mobile web, as rumor has it. But if the phone relies too heavily on wireless broadband, it won’t get much traction in fast growing markets where mobile broadband is still in infancy.

The total number of mobile subscribers worldwide is set to cross three billion in late 2007, and worldwide mobile penetration will pass 50 percent in 2008, according to UK-based research firm Portio Research. The firm notes the number of SMS messages will spike from 967.7 billion in 2006 to over 2070 billion messages by 2012 in Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, SMS accounts for approximately 75 to 80 percent of non-voice service revenues worldwide.

13 Responses to “Of Zingku, Orkut and Google”

  1. I’m pretty sure Google are pulling together the resources needed to see off Facebook, especially if Microsoft get their hands on them.

    The sheer annoyance factor of buying a stake in Facebook is probably enough to keep Microsoft happy for now, but I’m certain Microsoft have long-term plans.

    Think about corporate Social Networks, happier staff, better internal communications et cetera…

  2. Social networking on the mobile phone is going to be big. Mashing this up with music on the go and all you can eat data plans is a sure fire winner.

    For example, a mobile music social networking service is phling! from Oxy Systems. phling! turns a user’s mobile phone into their own mobile MusicLounge, connecting the phone to all the music, playlists, and podcasts stored on the user’s PC.

  3. SMS is definitely one of the most used VAS (value added service) in India. A recent survey showed that people use their phone more for SMS than talking. So I am not surprised that Google is interested in a SMS company, as India is one of their biggest markets for Orkut. I even heard a rumor that Google is moving their entire Orkut development team to Delhi. In future, all Orkut developoment will be done from India.

  4. Orkut is bleeding to facebook and the trickle is turning into a flood. In my country which happens to be one of largest in terms of population in the world Orkut was the king. In the last six months everyone I know has packed up and gone to Facebook.