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Google Acquires Swiss Internet Mapping Company

Not all Google acquisitions have a $1.65B price tag – in fact very few do. Google has gone back to snapping-up small interesting technology companies, with the acquisition of Endoxon, an internet mapping solutions company (actually, they only acquired 3 of the company’s 6 business units).

The Endoxon team has demonstrated passion and innovation in online mapping and has developed compelling technology that will enhance our Google geo products worldwide. We’re also excited about having a dedicated team in Europe that can bring a distinctively European focus to our Maps products in those markets.

It must be hard for a small company to resist the lure of being part of Google, yet allowed to continue operating in Europe. Google’s becoming the new internet incubator!

MySpace and Cingular Launch MySpace Mobile

Thanks to a deal between Cingular and MySpace, you’ll never have to worry about what each of your thousands of friends are doing, while you’re away from your computer. Mashable is reporting that MySpace Mobile is going live today.

…allowing Cingular subscribers to add photos, blog posts and comments to their MySpace pages for $2.99/month. You’ll also be able to send and receive your MySpace mail. The mobile version will be more lightweight, they say – it won’t have many graphics, banner ads or access to MySpace Video.

The service is java based and will work on 30 phones at launch. You can read the full press release here.

First Apple’s iPhone, Next Google’s GPhone

France Telecom’s mobile phone unit, Orange, reportedly sent executives to the Googleplex to discuss a potential partnership. The discussions could lead to Google’s search technology powering a new “Google phone”, which would make using cell phones as easy as the world’s most popular search engine.

Their plans centre on a branded Google phone…it might have a screen similar to a video iPod. But it would have built-in Google software which would dramatically improve on the slow and cumbersome experience of surfing the web from a mobile handset.

If you think you don’t need a Gphone, you may want to consider the features a Google-powered phone will bring…

Among the potential benefits are location-based searches: aware of your handset’s geographical position, Google could offer a tailored list of local cinemas, restaurants and other amenities, and maps and images from Google Earth.

Virgin Mobile Taps JumpTap for Mobile Search Technology

Virgin Mobile and JumpTap have announced a partnership that will see JumpTap’s mobile search engine technology powering Virgin’s cell phones.

Launching in February, this new search functionality will make it simple for Virgin Mobile customers to quickly discover the broadest amount of content they’re looking for, both within Virgin Mobiles own suite of content (i.e., on-portal), as well as out on the mobile Web (off-portal).

The deal not only enhances the search experience for Virgin Mobile’s cell phone users, but also opens up new advertising options with relevant sponsored links being delivered alongside organic search results.

Hat-tip to Ben Wills.

Ask.com Launches AskCity

Ask.com has taken its existing maps service, combined it with content from parent-company IAC’s CitySearch and Ticketmaster, stirred the ingredients and baked at 400F for 20 minutes. The result? A great new way to search for business, events, movies and maps using a new service called AskCity.

The interface is easy to use, and the 3-panel layout means you’ll keep track of your search. The integration of IAC’s CitySearch and Ticketmaster, means you can also purchase tickets for your favorite events!

Just one question for Ask.com. How hard is it to coordinate the launch with your own blog announcement? This is a great launch and shows how Ask will continue to benefit from IAC, so this two-line note on your blog doesn’t cut-it. Sorry.

Mobile Phone Operators Quaking in their Boots

It appears mobile phone operators are trying a new tact in their effort to compete with mobile app providers – begging them to stop.

Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, told an event at Oxford University’s Said Business School that “we’ve been getting notes from some of the telco carriers who are saying ‘look, you need to stop our customers from downloading this thing’.”

If only Alta Vista had thought to ask Google not to start a search engine, they might still be in business.

“Look, Larry, you and Sergey have created this new search engine and it’s simply taking away our user-base. You need to pull the plug on Google or else!” ;-)

Google Click-to-Call Subject to Phone Pranks?

For a brief time yesterday, TechCrunch speculated that Google had removed its Click-to-Call function on Google Maps, due to prank calls. The post was later updated to confirm the function was still in place.

It does raise an interesting question about the potential for abuse. What is to stop someone from simply clicking dozens of links and entering the phone numbers of friends, enemies or premium numbers?

I can see the spammers making their plans now. Within weeks we’ll hear about a wave of businesses receiving phone calls with recorded messages from an ousted prince in Nigeria.