Nokia intends to boost its mobile ad business through the acquisition of Enpocket, which provides mobile phone marketing technology and services to advertisers, web publishers and carriers.

After years of great promise and unmet expectations, mobile advertising is expected to boom in coming years, going from a tiny market to a considerable one.

Last week, The Kelsey Group predicted that spending on mobile search and display advertising in the US alone will hit $33.2m this year and grow at a compound annual rate of 112 percent through 2012, when it will total $1.4bn.

Kelsey Group also expects the number of mobile internet users to grow at a 20 percent compound annual clip in the US through 2012, when there will be almost 92 million people going online via their mobile phones.

Worldwide, mobile ad spending is expected to reach $1.5bn this year and grow to $11.3bn by 2011, according to market researcher Informa Telecoms & Media.

As mobile phones become a viable vehicle for online marketing, all major telecom, online publishing and Internet players are jockeying for position in this market.

Those pursuing the mobile ad opportunity include online service giants like Google and Yahoo; mobile carriers in the US such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless; and handset manufacturers such as Apple and Nokia.

Nokia expects to close the Enpocket acquisition in this year's fourth quarter.

Eden Zoller, an Ovum analyst, said that Nokia does well in acquiring Enpocket, because the company is a strong mobile advertising specialist whose technology platform has a solid analytics component. "Enpocket gives Nokia a leg up in mobile advertising and credibility that it needs to be taken seriously in the space," Zoller wrote.