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9/30/2008
02:29 PM
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Nokia To Acquire Mobile E-Mail, IM Provider

The acquisition of OZ Communications is part of Nokia's larger strategy of providing more than just the handset.

Nokia said Tuesday it will acquire OZ Communications, a mobile messaging provider that delivers access to instant messaging and e-mail services.

The deal, which is for an undisclosed amount, will beef up the phone manufacturer's portfolio of messaging products. OZ specializes in providing wireless customers with fast access to IM and e-mail services from the likes of AOL, ICQ, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, and more.

"OZ has been working closely with Nokia since 2003 -- joining forces at this point is a natural extension of our partnership," said Jim Knapik, president and CEO of OZ, in a statement. "We are excited about taking OZ's solutions to consumers worldwide by leveraging Nokia's devices and distribution scale."

OZ said it currently has 5.5 million paid monthly users, and its services are used by wireless providers like Alltel, Rogers Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter, and OZ will be integrated into Nokia's services & software unit.

This latest acquisition is part of Nokia's overarching strategy to provide more than just the handset. With its Ovi platform, the phone giant is increasingly offering services and applications to provide new functionality and additional revenue.

Over the last year, Nokia has purchased Plazes and Twango to beef up its multimedia and social networking offerings, and it recently launched a music service.

Additionally, the phone manufacturer's $8.1 billion acquisition of Navteq was recently approved by regulators. This move potentially paves the way for Nokia to become a major player in the personal navigation market, as well increase the location-based functionality of the company's many handsets.

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