Nokia Snags Trolltech - InformationWeek

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1/28/2008
11:37 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Nokia Snags Trolltech

The latest open source acquisition just came down the pike, and from the outside it's one of the unlikelier pairings imaginable: Mobile handset vendor Nokia just made a $150+ million offer for open source software makers Trolltech.

The latest open source acquisition just came down the pike, and from the outside it's one of the unlikelier pairings imaginable: Mobile handset vendor Nokia just made a $150+ million offer for open source software makers Trolltech.

For those not in the know: Trolltech makes Qt, an application development library that makes it easier to write GUI-based programs that can run on multiple platforms (i.e., Windows, Mac, and X Window / Linux / Unix).  Opera and Google Earth are two major applications that use Qt, and there are countless others, some of which you might even be using right now.  There's also been a bit of a struggle to get Qt and its derived products licensed in a GPL-friendly fashion over the years -- it exists in both a proprietary edition and a FOSS edition, depending on the licensing requirements.

Now Nokia has stepped in with a bundle of cash.  My main theory is that this might be an indirect stab at the Google / Android axis -- a way for Nokia to develop something for all its phones using Trolltech's proprietary libraries without being obliged to redistribute it.  That said, Nokia has its own open source license and open source project center, so it's entirely possible what they really wanted from this acquisition is Trolltech's development team, and that anything it creates and releases under an open source license is just gravy.  I saw something of the same hankering behind Sun's acquisition of MySQL AB: software may be cheap, but talent is forever priceless.

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