Nokia Buys Boutique Social Networking Firm

Nokia today acquired Plum, a small company that created a platform for private social networks in a move seen as part of its transformation from wireless device maker to mobile service provider.

“Plum will complement Nokia’s Social Location services. The acquired Plum assets will become part of Nokia’s Services unit,” is all Nokia (NYSE:NOK) said in a brief statement issued today that did not disclose financial terms.

The company, which employs less than a dozen people in San Francisco and Boston, will continue to “operate unchanged,” said Plum founder Hans Peter in a blog post.

Plum’s software allows small groups to create private social networks, sharing links, photos and updates. It also licenses the platform to other companies and Web sites who employ it under their own branding.

The latest acquisition comes as Nokia shores up its position in the competitive wireless sector as it undergoes a transformation from phone maker to what Kai Oistamo, vice president of devices for Nokia, calls a “mobile solutions provider.”

While Nokia had little to add today on the Plum deal, the Finnish mobile giant has had plenty to say in the past few weeks as it announced several new products. These include the Nokia Booklet 3G netbook, the N900, a wireless device running on Maemo 5, and a new series of music smartphones.

It also ramped up efforts in the mobile app space by making it easier for developers to code new applications for its family of devices by issuing a new Ovi SDK.

In August, Nokia partnered with Microsoft in a deal that will begin by porting Office Mobile applications to run on the Symbian mobile OS.

Nokia had not returned calls seeking comment by press time.

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