Nokia’s acquisition of Dopplr: Whither business sense?
Nokia has been on an acquisition spree lately. Celity, Bit-Side, Plum and now Dopplr. One hear’s about the acquisition of Palm a well. That’s been on air for some-time now and we still don’t seem to have any definite answer on that.
Acquisition of Dopplr
Dopplr, a travel social network site headquartered in London, owned and operated by Dopplr Ltd. in Helsinki, Finland is rumored to have been acquired by Nokia. The travel social networking service is based on the idea of “intention broadcasting” where you publish your intention to visit somewhere in the future, thus making happy coincidences in your social network less and less coincidental (and thus happier, more efficient). An year ago, Dopplr was voted by ReadWriteWeb to be one of the top ten international products of 2008. (Read Here)
The purchase price is said to be between €10 million and €15 million. The site has never grown to huge usage, but its core users are passionate about Dopplr. This is in contrast to Tripit, which has a larger audience and caters to the same socialize-while-you-travel idea.
The problem with this idea seems to be that, it belonged as part of something bigger, not as a standalone site. There is too much social capital that is required for yet another “community” website. One single purpose did not warrant another log on, another bit of data input. The idea was nicely executed, however, but not compelling enough on its own. The flip of this is that Dopplr may add up to Nokia’s world well and would get the threshold volume it always lagged.
Interestingly, in 2008, Nokia purchased Plazes – another location-based service with social networking roots. Plazes offers users the opportunity to share locations and activities with friends while geotagging the sites they like. Dopplr serves a similar purpose; however, friends are meant to meet up while traveling.
If this sounds familiar it’s because services like Foursquare and most recently Gowalla have gotten iPhone users into the habit of checking in and leaving tips at their favorite haunts and watering holes.
With Plazes in 2008 and Dopplr in 2009, both serving the same purpose, I wonder how Nokia has visioned its advance in Travel social networking. Admittedly, it does seem to have little of any worth in two acquisitions of same nature without doing much on the first one.
Presenting Om Malik’s reaction to Nokia’s acquisition strategy:
“…Nokia was bereft of direction and purpose. You can also extend that argument to Nokia’s acquisition strategy. The company has been buying up tiny companies, hoping to get a bit of web services magic. Unfortunately, all these acquisitions are like Band-aids applied on a cut carotid artery — they wouldn’t do much good unless Nokia has a platform that’s developed specifically for the mobile Internet.” Ref: http://gigaom.com/2009/09/23/dopplr-commits-hara-kiri-sells-to-nokia/
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