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Facebook, Nokia discuss alliance

13 февраля 2009

Facebook Inc. is stepping up its efforts to integrate its social network into an array of mobile phones, including those made by Nokia Corp., the world's largest handset maker.

Facebook and Nokia are discussing a partnership that would embed parts of the social network into some Nokia phones, people familiar with the matter said. Financial terms of the potential deal couldn't be learned, nor was it clear how many of Nokia's devices would be included.

Under one alternative, contact information stored in Facebook would be integrated with the phone's address book: When users looked up a contact, they could see whether their Facebook friends were logged on, send them messages and post comments on their profile pages.

Talks between the companies have been going on for months, and it is unclear whether an agreement will be reached, these people said. Nokia is deciding whether it wants to team up with an established Web player like Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., or to build a social network from the ground up, said people familiar with the talks.

Another issue for the two companies is how much information Facebook would have access to. Nokia doesn't want the service to provide Facebook with an avenue to compile data about cellphone users, such as their Web browsing or purchasing habits, a person familiar with the talks said.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is "dedicated to working with and developing partnerships with mobile operators and device makers all over the world."

Facebook is working with Palm Inc. on integrating aspects of the social network into its new mobile operating system that will be used across a number of devices. Motorola Inc. and Facebook have also discussed integrating the site into future devices, according to one person familiar with the matter. Motorola declined to comment.

Facebook's moves mirror those of other Web sites, including MySpace and Google Inc.'s YouTube, which have worked with handset makers to help consumers access features from their phones more easily. MySpace worked with Danger Inc. to integrate with the T-Mobile Sidekick and like Facebook has built software applications for the BlackBerry and iPhone.

John Faith, general manager of MySpace Mobile, said the company is continuing to work with handset makers to integrate its service into more phones.

The pursuit of partnerships with hardware makers represents a shift from the days when Internet companies focused primarily on cultivating marketing deals with wireless carriers. As Web browsers have improved, it has become easier for consumers to tap into any online service on their phones, diminishing the importance of a carrier's marketing support.

As with most of the cellphone-software industry, Facebook has yet to find a way to generate meaningful revenue from its mobile services, which include text-messaging features, a mobile Web site and downloadable software. But the number of users accessing its site from phones has grown.

MySpace, which has been the largest social network in the U.S., saw Facebook surpass it in terms of visitors from mobile phones. In December, Facebook had seven million U.S. mobile users, compared with MySpace's 5.7 million, according to Nielsen Co.

MySpace is owned by News Corp., which also owns Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Nokia and Facebook are also expected to make some minor announcements at the coming wireless trade show in Barcelona, but they aren't expected to have completed talks over the deeper handset partnership, people familiar with the matter said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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