Estonian mobile service company Mobi and mobile mapping firm Nutiteq have announced that Mobi has acquired a 33% stake in Nutiteq. The investment will be used to strengthen Nutiteq’s product development and international marketing. Nutiteq’s provides customized white label open mobile mapping applications for developers, service and content providers.
Jaak Laineste, CEO of Nutiteq, commented that the transaction was in fact a mixture of an investment round and a partial trade sale. With Mobi, Nutiteq hopes to find marketing and product development synergies to bring new products to market. Laineste mentioned that Mobi has strong development background and resources, whereas Nutiteq brings in a global contact network and expertise in location-based technologies. Laineste revealed that the deal happened in quite a laid-back atmosphere – there wasn’t need for lengthy processes as both firms are from the Estonian city Tartu, and the founders have known each other for years.
Nutiteq has been able to grab, and become one of the world leaders in, a tiny niche of customized and open mobile mapping components. The company has a little stronghold in Estonia and the Baltics, with a majority of the over 1000 developers using the company’s products coming from the US, Germany, Middle-East, and Asia. Notably the most popular service that uses Nutiteq’s technology has reportedly over 2 million end-users in the US.
Nevertheless, the market has also shown to impose many constraints and limitations, Laineste mentions, and that it is why they are now looking to build new killer applications with Mobi. Mobi also sees rapidly increasing demand for location-based mobile applications. Indeed, the mobile maps and navigation landscape has evolved a lot in the last few months, culminating in Google’s and Nokia’s announcements of free navigation (while neither solution is freely available to all handset models).
Mobi also has an interesting story behind it. The firm was founded by a group of Estonian IT and business students in autumn 2000, and it became the pioneer of mobile advertising in Estonia. Evolving though SMS event services the company finally started offering its own SMS-gateway along mobile marketing and m-payments services, and has grown to over 30 people across 3 countries. Mobi is also the parent company of SMS payment solutions startup Fortumo (our coverage).