Vodafone acquires social-networking platform company

Vodafone is buying ZYB, a Danish company that has a social networking and online management platform for mobile phones.

Vodafone is acquiring ZYB, a Danish company that has developed a social networking and online management tool for backing-up and sharing contact and calendar information online. Vodafone announced the €31.5 million (US$48.7 million) deal Friday.

ZYB's social-networking platform is set apart from others because it works on mobile phones. Vodafone sees the opportunity to make money from, for example, mobile advertising using ZYB's technology, according to a statement from the operator.

ZYB is currently working on a new service called Phonebook, which will launch this quarter. Users will be able to see the location of their friends (if the friends will allow that), see if a contact is available for a call (including the time zone, so no embarrassing wake-up calls) and share their calendars.

Phonebook also integrates with Web-based services for social networking, including Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, according to its Web site.

At the same time it will keep the features of the existing platform, so users will continue to receive auto-updates of friends' contact details as well as an online back-up of contacts, calendar events, photos and text messages.

Non-Vodafone customers need not be worried, according to ZYB's blog. "ZYB will stay open and free for all users all around the world, regardless of whether they are customers of Vodafone or any other network operator," said CEO Tommy Ahlers.

His company will remain based in Denmark, and upon acquisition will be incorporated into Vodafone's Internet Services Division.

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