Finally, a wireless company makes a smart acquisition. Vodafone has acquired Danish wireless address book company Zyb, whose service I have often used to keep my growing array of mobile phones synchronized, for 31.5 million euros, or roughly $49 million. Zyb had raised around $4.7 million in VC funds, with Nordic Venture Partners the biggest investor. This deal is also another win for Morten Lund, who was an early investor not just in Zyb but in Skype.
Vodafone is making a lot of noise about using Zyb’s social networking abilities for its mobile platform, but this is utter rubbish, and distracts from what Zyb is really good for: backing up your address book — a crucial service these days, given how quickly people switch their phones.
Zyb is the smartest way to keep your contacts up-to-date; it’s even (in some cases) a decent option for syncing your calendars. This will help boost customer satisfaction, thanks to seamless switching between phones. I hope Vodafone keeps it free and doesn’t revert to the carrier philosophy of greed-before customer happiness.
While Zyb’s acquisition by Vodafone dovetails with my long-standing belief that the real social network is the address book on our mobile phones, as things currently stand, Zyb is not the answer to Vodafone’s prayers. The company has its issues: Zyb’s downtime, for example, is worse that my pre-January 2008 track record of going to a gym. The company recently bought social networking company, Imity, but how that works out remains to be seen. Sure, Zyb has some average sharing features that allow you to send messages and photos. But as I said, a great connected address book — nothing more, and nothing less.
P.S.: Does anyone else find something intriguing about two address books companies being snapped up by telcos/broadband providers, specifically Vodafone buying Zyb and Comcast snapping up Plaxo? If this is a trend, who is the next to go, and where? Let the speculation begin.