Nokia today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire bit-side GmbH. Bit-side is a small (39 employees) software and service development company that is privately owned. Nokia say the acquisition will help speed up its mobile development for Nokia Maps. Bit-side is known for its imaging (Panoman) and entertainment applications (Marble Revolution). It is also the development house behind a number of well received mobile applications including Plazes for the iPhone and Pixelpipe for Android.
The most likely explanation for the acquisition is that Bit-side, sometime in the last year or so, were contracted by Nokia to help with the mobile development efforts for Nokia Maps, perhaps including the integration of the recently acquired Plazes. Rather than continuing the contracting arrangement Nokia have agreed to acquire the company to bring the expertise in house. This would lead to long term cost savings.
Both Bit-side and the development of Nokia Maps (partially what was once smart2Go) are based out of Berlin, thus the acquisition is clearly also a way for Nokia to quickly beef up their Nokia Maps mobile development team.
"Acquiring bit-side enables Nokia to offer consumers the world-leading mobile location applications, such as Maps, along with routing and navigation at an accelerated speed" said Michael Halbherr, vice president and head of social location, Nokia. "Nokia has been working with bit-side since 2007, and bit-side has become a strategic development partner to Nokia."
"Nokia believes that context plays a pivotal role in the evolution of the Internet. To make the Internet truly personal, Nokia is building the ability for people to always know where they are and what is around them. Moreover, to know where their friends are and what they are doing and how they are feeling. Nokia calls this social location," said Michael Halbherr, vice president and head of social location, Nokia.
"Joining Nokia, the world leader in mobility, is an exciting opportunity for us," says Thom Brenner, managing director & partner, bit-side GmbH. "Our small team has brought many innovative mobile products to life and being part of Nokia will be like a catalyst to this. We share Nokia's visions, on social and location related services and the future of their enabling technologies."
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2009. Bit-side will be integrated to Nokia's Services unit.
If you want to see an example of Bit-side's work, then a good place to start is PanoMan. PanoMan can be used to create panoramic images on almost any recent S60 smartphone. It works by stitching together multiple images into a single wide-panoramic image. It'll be interesting to see if PanoMan, or its functionality, is included for free in future Nokia devices. It is currently available commercially for around 10 EUR.