Nokia on Friday announced in a very brief press release it was acquiring the 10-person Boston and San Francisco-based social media firm Plum Ventures. Plum’s been around for about five years, was funded by Vulcan Capital and Levensohn Venture Partners, and focuses on social networking tools for websites. Plum will complement Nokia’s Social Location services, and will be integrated into Nokia’s Services group. Recently, the Finnish vendor has been moving a lot of its multimedia and internet-focused resources from the Boston area to the Bay Area. It remains to be seen if Plum’s Boston resources will move as well, as part of Nokia’s plan to put its web and content related resources closer to large web and media customers on the West Coast.
Mass High Tech reported that Plum’s focus has been on providing social media sharing and messaging among small private groups, such as families, small affinity groups such as co-workers, college alumni, sports fans of a particular team, or social groups like book clubs. And while I can see Nokia wanting to extend its services strategy down to even smaller groups, to empower individuals in smaller social circles to share media, experiences, and personal recommendations, I think Plums draw was really its focus on working with larger companies on providing white label social integration tools to their websites. This included work with travel firms like ViaMichelin and Mobissimo, music and media sites like i-concerts and the Interactive Cinema and Media Fabrics Group within MIT’s Media Lab, and publishers like Levine | Greenberg. Plum provided a rich set of APIs for firms to personalize their social gathering circles on their web sites, and even provided customers with their own branded iPhone application in the Apple iTunes App store (Plum white labeled solution). So this tight integration of web site social community tied to an iPhone application was clearly attractive to Nokia. Can you see Nokia working with companies to brand a Nokia solution (or perhaps white labeled?) that will extend from their customers’ web site to perhaps a Symbian or Maemo based-device? I can!