Motorola scoops up location-based software firm

By Wailin Wong
Posted Sep. 16, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.

Motorola Inc. said Thursday it has acquired a company that develops location-based software for smartphone devices.

Terms of the deal with Aloqa GmbH, which has offices in Munich, Germany and Palo Alto, Calif., were not disclosed. Aloqa makes a mobile phone application that delivers content to a device based on where its owner is located. A person might receive discounts on local businesses or information about nearby events, Motorola said.

Aloqa will be part of Motorola Mobility, the company comprising mobile devices and TV set-top boxes that Schaumburg-based Motorola plans to spin off in the first quarter of next year.

Motorola said it plans to integrate Aloqa’s technology into its proprietary Motoblur service, a cloud-based platform for mobile phones that aggregates and organizes content from users’ social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Location-based services represent a rapidly growing space for the mobile phone industry, with a proliferation of apps and services that enable consumers to “check in” at restaurants or public events, access local discounts in real-time and find out where their friends are.

Motorola co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha, who will lead Motorola Mobility when it becomes an independent company next year, has said he wants Motoblur to branch out beyond social networking into areas such as multimedia. The company’s initial efforts to create consumer awareness around Motoblur have been scaled back, however. Despite a big marketing push around the Web-based service last year, including a Super Bowl commercial starring actress Megan Fox, Jha said at a Wednesday investment bank conference that it was “not an easy proposition” to create an emotional connection with Motoblur.

“We will focus more on branding the device and Motorola, rather than Motoblur as a service,” Jha said.

Still, Jha said Motoblur is an important way that Motorola’s smartphones stand out from other devices that also run Google’s Android operating system. Motoblur has more than 200 million subscribers, Jha said.

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