[by David Kaplan and Rafat Ali] Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Facebook are working on porting the social network on to Nokia handsets in a major way, we have learned. The Facebook placement could be as prominent as the YouTube button on the main screen of iPhone, our sources indicate. Also, the deal involves giving Facebook a major slot within Nokia retail products’ displays.
But another factor elevates this beyond just-another-social-net-on-a-phone deal: Our sources have indicated that the discussions have involved Nokia purchasing a stake in the company, but these are in very early stages. This makes sense in light of Facebook’s recent strategic funding by Sawmer Brothers, in an effort to expand in Europe. The Nokia-Facebook deal would give the social network instant big-time mobile distribution: Nokia is the world’s largest maker of mobile phones.
A senior Nokia executive, speaking on background, declined to go into details about the pact with Facebook: “There is talk of a partnership in the works… it’s safe to say we’re testing the waters and things still have to be worked out.” E-mails and phone calls seeking comment on the deal from Nokia and Facebook representatives were not returned.
Nokia has of late been working on a slew of services for the mobile, including its mobile web service Ovi, its mobile social network Mosh (which hasn’t really rocked the world since its launch last year), and its recent spate of acquisitions in the larger media applications space. In October last year, it bought digital mapping provider Navteq for $8.1 billion to eventually offer customers location-based services. Also in October, it announced a deal to provide a year’s free access to Universal’s music catalog on some Nokia phones. And it bought three other smaller companies last year: Avvenu (file sharing on mobiles and between mobile-PC); Twango (media sharing service for about $100 million); and Enpocket (mobile advertising and marketing services).
Would be interesting to see how Nokia’s own social media efforts pan out versus this deal it is working on with Facebook…
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