Although I recently described it as an “arms race,” the rush by social media companies to acquire or build out new capabilities might better be termed an “everything race,” as they seek to provide basically every major service or feature that younger, tech-savvy consumers might need or want, from mobile video chat to mobile payments. This week brings rumors that Facebook is interested in acquiring Nokia’s Here for mobile mapping, a stepping stone to more location-based services for users and targeted ads for advertisers.
TechCrunch reports that Facebook is on a fairly short list of potential buyers for Here, which also includes Apple, Samsung, Uber, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Alibaba, as well as a consortium of unnamed carmakers. However, a few things recommend Facebook as the most likely winner -- most notably, the fact that it already has a deal with Nokia to incorporate Here into its mobile Web platform, and appears to be using its geocoding for location tagging, a must-have for users who want to, say, share pictures tagged to a specific locale. On that note, it’s also testing integrations with Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
Of course, enhanced location tracking would open the way for more targeted mobile ads, especially for “brick-and-mortar” retail establishments. It’s not clear what kind of price tag the deal would carry, but according to TechCrunch, Here is worth at least $2 billion and possibly twice that, thanks to its data resources.
Facebook has been introducing new products at a furious clip in recent months. Last week it introduced free mobile video calling as part of its mobile Messenger app, putting it in direct competition with Skype and Apple’s FaceTime.
And in March, it announced that users can send money to friends via Messenger, pitting it against other peer-to-peer payment services like Square, Venmo, and Snapcash, introduced last year by Snapchat and powered by Square.