More Consolidation In Mobile Apps Services: Teleca Buys SurfKitchen

Looks like another small acquisition to continue the consolidation among mobile internet solutions providers: the Swedish mobile services provider Teleca has bought UK-based SurfKitchen to capitalise on what it says is a growing opportunity in mobile-operator-run app stores. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

The acquisition will help Teleca offer a more complete end-to-end service to mobile operators and vendors. Teleca, based in Malmo, Sweden, today has around 2,000 employees, and according to its CTO Andrew Till, has built a business primarily integrating mobile solutions for device makers, platform vendors and chipmakers. One example is a recent deal to add an Android radio interface layer to chipsets designed by Icera, and another to add PC-back up functionality to an unnamed Android-based tablet.

Teleca also counts content providers like ABC (NYSE: DIS) News as customers for its mobile apps business, which it launched in 2009: Teleca helped the news organisation develop its iPad app, which Till says now is installed in some 25 percent of all devices in the U.S.

Meanwhile, SurfKitchen has primarily worked with mobile operators on their internet and apps initiatives, such as the web2go service run by T-Mobile (pictured). The company is quite small — only 55 employees — and Till says the acquisition will mean that SurfKitchen will be able to take on bigger projects for operators, using Teleca’s team of engineers to execute the work. “For operators that want to accelerate development of app stores, SurfKitchen can now offer a lot more resources for testing and content management,” he told mocoNews. Michel Quazza, SurfKitchen’s chairman and CEO, is expected to remain with the company, along with other members of the management team.

Operator-run app stores are still in their early stages of development, and have so far been eclipsed by the bigger and more popular storefronts from the likes of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG), but there is still a big opportunity out there, when you consider that smartphone penetration is only around 300-350 million units today, compared to the billions of mobile and other wireless devices overall. “The majority of the market is still not being served,” notes Till. “And still a lot of users looking for access to content.” One area he thinks is still vastly untapped are niche app stores for new connected devices, such as automobiles. Full release here.