Yahoo buys Foursquare rival Koprol

Yahoo is taking its alliance with Nokia seriously by buying a location-based social networking website called Koprol.

Koprol is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and is designed to help users find friends and places nearby from any mobile phone. What is interesting is that you can sign into it using your Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts – and now a Yahoo ID sign in is possible. This extends the reach of Koprol by utilising existing popular social networking websites.

Koprol is all about people’s locations. When signed in users can let others know where they are and what they’re up to. They can also check on other users’ locations and find shops and venues based on a rating system. Of course, there’s a potentially huge problem with this type of service, which is safety. Letting everyone know you’re at the shops is a very good way to let thieves know you’re not at home.

This is a criticism that has been levelled at another location-based service, Foursquare, which Yahoo has been trying to get its mitts on. Yahoo offered a hefty sum of $125 million for it, but a deal has yet to be secured. Google bought out Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley’s previous website Dodgeball, so potentially the search giant might wade into Yahoo’s territory and nab this one as well. That may explain why Yahoo has taken a liking to Koprol, if it believes Foursquare won’t come under its remit.

“Users are increasingly relying on mobile devices to communicate and access the Internet and they are looking for seamless integration between those devices and PCs. This is especially true in many emerging markets where we are introducing the Yahoo brand to many new-to-Net users,” said Rose Tsou, senior vice president of the Asia region at Yahoo. “Koprol was uniquely designed for mobile phones and within a year has already built a strong user base. Yahoo provides the global scale and technology to accelerate growth in Indonesia as well as introduce the service to new markets.”

Yahoo and Nokia retied the knot on Monday with a deal that was aimed at taking on the likes of Apple and Google in the mobile market with their own mail, maps, and more. We had our doubts about how successful such a venture could be, but it seems that Yahoo is ignoring the criticisms and trying to take a stab at social networking. While Koprol may not be quite as well known as Foursquare, it certainly seems to pack in many of the same features.

To further the reach of Koprol a series of applications are being designed. A BlackBerry one was released yesterday. If Yahoo continues its spending spree it may stand a chance at taking on the other giants in the field. Or, if all else fails, it could always swear at editors.

Yahoo refused to release details of how much it paid for Koprol.