Nokia Buys Media-Sharing Site Twango

twango(2).jpg The WSJ is reporting that Nokia will announce on Tuesday that it’s bought a media-sharing site called Twango. I’ve not heard of it before, and when I tried to visit the site I was greeted with a message saying it was down for maintenance (or perhaps a Nokia rebranding), though the Journal says it’s like other media-sharing sites, but it accepts photos, video and audio. Such a move by Nokia isn’t particularly surprising, given its newfound affinity for web software and services. It does call into question the company’s deals with Flickr and Six Apart, but the WSJ says they’ll remain in place “in order to provide choice for customers.”

I think that Nokia’s bigger push into the web space is, generally, A Good Thing, since for far too long mobile phones have and the web world haven’t played well together. But this acquisition strikes me as a bit odd. We’ve seen plenty of photo- and media-sharing sites from the likes of operators and handset vendors before, but for the most part, they’ve failed next to unaffiliated, web-based services. The biggest question in my mind is what’s more important: that Nokia have and control its own media-sharing site, and develop new revenue opportunities with it, or that its customers have the best tools possible to share media from their mobiles to the sites and services of their choosing?

This isn’t an either/or situation or a zero-sum game; I’m just not convinced that Nokia needs to get into the business of running web services in areas where plenty of established competition exists — and consumers have overwhelmingly chosen that competition. I’m interested to see what Nokia can bring to the table by snapping up Twango, but I hope it doesn’t come at the expense of the continued development of tools to let consumers share their mobile media to a wide range of sites. Perhaps I’m being overly cynical here, but too often in mobile closed thinking has been the default — and if Nokia is truly embracing the Web ethic, it’s got to make openness a priority, and not seek to lock its customers in to its own solutions, either actively, or by making the use of other services much more difficult.

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