One of the more curious acquisitions Nokia has made in recent years is the one announced this week to buy Trolltech. The Norwegian Trolls are known as a leader in mobile Linux, so you might conclude that Nokia is going to offer more Linux-based handsets.
Nokia has talked up open-source for several years, but the only devices it has that run Linux are its Internet Tablets (one of which will be used on Sprint’s Xohm WiMAX network this year). Otherwise, Nokia’s handsets run its proprietary OS or Symbian S60.
Nokia might be thinking about Linux handsets, but it appears more likely it will use the Trolls software development expertise to augment what the Finnish handset leader is already doing for its new services business. The announcement said as much, talking about a strategy based on cross-platform development environments, including Web runtime, Flash, Java and Open C.
“Software plays a major role in our growth strategy for devices, PCs and the integration with the Internet,” says Kai Oistamo, Nokia’s devices executive VP. “Common cross-platform layers on top of our software platforms attract innovation and enable Web 2.0 technologies in the mobile space. Trolltech’s deep understanding of open source software and its strong technology assets will enable both Nokia and others to innovate on our device platforms while reducing time-to-market. This acquisition will also further increase the competitiveness of S60 and Series 40.”
Nokia did say it will continue to develop Trolltech’s own products and to license Trolltech’s technology.
In fact, Red Bend Software is expected to show off a Linux-based phone at Mobile World Congress based on Trolltech’s Qtopia platform that can be fully customized over the air.