The Mobile Lowdown 04-27-11: Google Mobile Patents; White iPhone; Navteq


Our look at some of the stories in mobile today: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) looks to boost its mobile ammo by bidding for another set of moile patents; more on that all-important white iPhone; and another bit of news on Nokia (NYSE: NOK), refocussing Naveteq.

Google: Remember smartphone maker Modu? Of course you don’t: the Israel-based company, backed by $107 million in VC funding, didn’t get very far in its strategy to develop small, pared-down smartphones that could be customised on the outside with different casings (much like certain models of wrist watches), before closing down earlier this year with some $123 million still owed to creditors.

But there might be something salvageable from the Modu enterprise: the Israeli newspaper Globes is reporting that Google is interested in paying some 7 million New Israeli Shekels ($2 million) for the defunct company’s mobile patents, beating an offer of NIS5 million from Kensington Technology Corporation. Modu had developed handsets using the Android OS, as well as devices based on Brew.

In its three years of life, Modu had registered some 100 patents, which are now seen as one of the company’s most valuable assets by the court-appointed receivers.

Interesting table published yesterday from Global Equities (via Fortune) detailing where various mobile players are sitting today regarding their patent counts. Google clearly needs to build up its artillery, something the modu buy could facilitate:

White iPhone: That mythical white iPhone 4 is apparently finally hitting the market this week, and a Belgian retailer is the latest to leak pictures of the device. (via Engadget)

Updated: 9:42 a.m. PT – Apple confirmed that the white iPhone will go on sale tomorrow in the U.S. at Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) stores as well as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon stores.

Navteq: One more shift in Nokia’s new strategic direction. Its Navteq mapping unit will be restructured to focus more on social media, and specifically location sharing, to further boost revenue opportunities and other service synergies in those areas. This is according to PhoneScoop, which writes that it has seen an internal memo with these details. They are supposed to take effect May 1, and have yet to be publicly reported.

Last week, Nokia noted that it would provide the mapping technology in its implementation of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform. That was a big win for a small business: Navteq constitutes a tiny part of Nokia’s business these days. In last week’s quarterly results, Navteq reported €232 million ($341 million) in revenues, out of overall net sales of €10.4 billion.

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