Google Bags Mobile Social-Networking Startup

With the hullabaloo over its $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick still fresh, Google is finding the time to make some small acquisitions. The latest buy is in the mobile space, continuing the search vendor's torrid news pace for technologies and deals that will have an impact on the company position on our wireless devices.

Google, it seems, has acquired Zingku, which offers mobile social networking services (remember Dodgeball?). "We've entered into an agreement to have Google acquire our Zingku service," Zinku said on its Web site. Google Operating System was first with the report.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the deal, noting, "we believe these assets can help build products and features that will benefit our users, advertisers and publishers."
Zingku claims its mission is to enable individuals and businesses to "mobilize their passion" by leveraging their personal network, the company said on its Web site. Basically, it sees mobile phones that let users play pictures, words, music and video as "full-fledged production devices."

To wit, the service, which is in private beta, lets users create and share invitations or "mobile fliers" using standard text messaging, picture messaging, instant messaging and Web browsers.

For example, merchants, which Zingku defines as "anyone who has something to promote," can create interactive "mobile fliers" and then e-mail a "zing-code" to their customers who opt to pull the flier to their mobile phone. The customer can zing the flier to friends they think may be interested.

"As such, 18- to 28-year-olds, who have tuned out of e-mail and are tuned into their mobile devices, respond far more actively than traditional marketing media," Zingku said.

Guess I fall outside the demographic. I'm not offended. They're right; I wouldn't use such a service, and frankly it may be a bit ahead of its time.

This is probably the point for Google; for a company allegedly planning to offer a mobile phone platform of some kind as all the evidence suggests, it makes sense to add such a service.

All evidence suggests we're at the tip of the iceberg in social-networking tools, and many people seem to believe this will be the next battle front for online advertising along with the mobile space.

The alleged, high-valued Microsoft stake in Facebook supports this line of thought. So, in a mobile social-networking service such as Zingku, Google is slinging one stone for two birds.

Anyway, Zingku said users who want to continue the service needn't do a thing as their account will be turned over to Google when the deal closes. Those who choose not maintain their accounts can cancel their account any time before Oct. 4, 2007.