Ontela merges photo-transfer service with Photobucket

Ontela, which provides a photo-transferring service to wireless operators, announced today it is merging with online photo site Photobucket.com. The newly combined company will adopt the Photobucket name, as well as the company’s 22 million US-based users and will continue to market the Ontela software through carriers.

Ontela’s business was based on the simple idea of letting users immediately transfer pictures they take with their mobile phone directly to their PC or photo-sharing sites like long-time partner Photobucket. The service is now embedded in handsets from all five of the top mobile phone manufacturers. The company also has relationships in place with more than 30 wireless operators, including Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, certifying its software on more than 100 devices. Carriers typically charge their consumers a subscription fee for the service, and the merger with Photobucket will create a more robust service for them to market and monetize.

The Photobucket management team will continue to operate the business, and parent company News Corporation will have an equity stake in the company. Tom Munro, Ontela’s chief financial officer, will become president of the combined company, and Ontela CEO Dan Shapiro will become CTO.

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