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Nokia Acquires MetaCarta

Buyout will help fuel Nokia's push to broaden its presence in the location-based services market.

Nokia has bought out MetaCarta, a specialist in geographic intelligence that is expected to boost the phone maker's push to expand the location-based services it offers to its mobile device users.

Nokia offered few details on its plans for the privately held MetaCarta, which employs about 30 people. The handset manufacturer issued a short statement on the acquisition, saying, "MetaCarta's technology will be used in the area of local search in location and other services." Financial details were not disclosed.

MetaCarta offers software that can take documents from a repository in a content management system or other source and have them appear in an online map. The company's technology works with maps viewed on a mobile device, browser-based map, such as Microsoft Virtual Earth, or a globe viewer, like Google Earth.

MetaCarta delivers its technology as an on-premise appliance, a hosted appliance or as a Web service.

Nokia has been pushing deeper into the location-based services since its $8.1 billion acquisition of map data specialist Navteq in 2007. In general, location-based services pinpoint people in order to deliver services relevant to where they are at any given time.

Because of the business potential, particularly through advertising and paid services, Nokia is far from alone in building out location-based services. Others pursing such business strategies include Internet companies Google, Microsoft and Yahoo; wireless carriers and other handset makers, including Apple and Research In Motion.

The number of mobile phones with global positioning systems is rising, as well as the market for applications and services that take advantage of a user's location. ABI Research predicts the market will reach $13.3 billion by 2013.

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