Is Telefonica eyeing Tuenti? Or it is the same old rumour?

[Spain] Is Telefonica buying Tuenti, the leading Spanish social network – or not? The subject comes up regularly in Spain.

And so it was that “Telefonica is rumored to be acquiring Tuenti for €80 million” ($104 million) was the latest rumour buzzing around Spanish blogs and Twitter timelines this weekend. The trouble is that Tuenti vehemently denies it.

Yesterday, vociferous Carlos Blanco wrote that Tuenti was in negotiations with Telefonica (with a very suggestive URL, reading something like “telefonica-buys-tuenti”). Thus setting off a veritable gossip bomb.

But in actuality Tuenti has said that it is making an announcement tomorrow morning that involves Telefonica… but it’s a relatively small commercial announcement that has nothing to do with a sale.

Having said that, it would not be entirely unexpected if there were indeed talks going on between the two companies, behind the scenes.

In November 2008, in an attempt to dive into the social networking boom, Telefonica Mobiles launched a multi-platform social network, Keteke.

Unfortunately for them this was a major flop in an attempt to compete with Tuenti.

The fact that there will be an announcement tomorrow is a very clear signal suggesting that Telefonica recognizes their failure with Keteke and needs to find a way back in to social.

Only two months ago, Tuenti launched an agreement with Vodafone to enable TuentiSMS, a service for social network addicts, allowing them to receive SMS messages notifying users of profile activity (comments, messages, friend invites). The Vodafone agreement was the first in the “Tuenti Partners” program Sean Kane announced on March 1st.

The program is an open invitation to all operators and mobile manufacturers to integrate with Tuenti, that others are bound to accept given Tuenti’s growing popularity, be it through TuentiSMS, pre-installed Tuenti applications or using their API license.