The 'smartphone' arms race has just gotten a bit colder. Nokia upped the ante Monday, or at the very least began the catch-up process, by purchasing Plazes, CNBC reported. Much like its more established predecessors Twitter and Jaiku, Plazes is a social networking start-up service. But where Twitter and Jaiku provide venues for "micro-blogging," or character-limited forums by which to inform all friends and contacts also using the service of present activities or thoughts, Plazes focuses, as its name would indicate, on place. It grants subscribers access to "location -aware services," explained CNBC's article, so users can better prepare for their social activities. So buying the service, should make Nokia's phones more competitive in the Internet-equipped cell phone arena cluttered with BlackBerries, the original iPhone and the upcoming iPhone G3, among


"This acquisition helps Nokia to accelerate its vision of bringing people and places closer together, in line with our broader services strategy," Niklas Savander, Nokia's Internet services head, wrote in a statement.

But neither Savander nor any other Nokia representatives released the details behind the actual deal the large Finnish company made with the 13-person German Plazes.

Whatever the terms, the relationship is a symbiotic one. Nokia will hone its internet sevices, hoping, as CNBC put it, to "sell 35 million GPS-enabled phones this year," and Plaze can hitch a piggy-back ride onto a very successful company and its set of products.

"If all goes well," Plazes spokespeople said in a statement, "in the near future Plazes will be made available to millions of Nokia customers both online and on millions of mobile devices."

Neither Nokia nor Plazes indicated when that "near future" would be, but since Nokia has offered to buy United States-based "digital maps firm Navteq" for $8.1 billion, it will likely be soon.

An investment of that amount indicates Nokia's commitment to staying on the cutting-edge.

As research firm CCS Insight director Ben Wood told CNBC: "We are seeing Web 2.0 behavior from Nokia here-identify a small start-up with a nugget of technology and buy it before anyone else gets it."