Google buys assets of mobile phone social network Zingku

Google Friday confirmed that it has acquired Zingku, a mobile social networking company geared toward teenagers and young adults, another in a series of moves to boost its mobile services.

A Google spokesman, in an e-mail, said the company had acquired "certain assets and technology" of Zingku. "We believe these assets can help build products and features that will benefit our users, advertisers and publishers." Details of the purchase weren't disclosed.

Zingku notified its users that it has reached an agreement for Google to acquire its service, according to a statement on its Web site. The company said users have until Thursday to decide whether they want to continue their accounts, which will be transferred to Google, or discontinue them. New accounts have been frozen.

Zingku, started in 2005, is geared to teenagers and people in their 20s. Currently, it is in a "private beta," according to the company. The free service uses standard text and picture messaging on a mobile phone and a Web browser, so users don't need to install additional software.

"With Zingku, things you wish to promote or share, can easily be created and fetched via mobile, instant messenger and Web browsers," according to Zingku. "Our service integrates your mobile phone with a personalized Web site so that you can easily move (zing) things back and forth between the Web and your mobile, as well as powerfully connect with friends and, optionally, their friends."

The acquisition of Zingku is another in a series of moves by Google to give users more services through mobile phones.

In 2005, Google bought Dodgeball, another mobile social network, but Google did little to promote the service, and Dodgeball's founders left Google earlier this year complaining that it wasn't investing enough resources in the service.

In July, Google acquired GrandCentral Communications Inc., which lets users of its software combine all their phone numbers and voice-mail boxes under one phone number so they can manage various phone features online.

Then earlier this month, Google announced that it was launching AdSense for Mobile to automatically match ads with the content of mobile Web pages in 13 countries.

Information from the IDG News Service was included in this report.

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Linda Rosencrance

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