Lars Knoll

Nokia to acquire Trolltech

Published Monday January 28th, 2008
71 Comments on Nokia to acquire Trolltech
Posted in KDE, News, Qt, Qt Jambi, Qtopia

As you might have seen, Nokia has announced to acquire Trolltech. An open letter to the open-source community can be found here.

This is exciting news for everyone. As you can see in the letter, our commitment to the community will not be affected by this. Qt development will continue in the same way as we’ve always done it.

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Posted in KDE, News, Qt, Qt Jambi, Qtopia

71 comments

Jochen Hoff says:

I think, this will be the End of Freedom for QT. It’s the same as Novell did with SuSE. Nokia isn’t a friend of freedom, it ist a company who put is own interests again the interests of all other humans. If the tell us today, the want to give a better growing for QT in the mass volume markets, this is only a other way to tell us, the are want to earn the money for themselves. All OpenSource work for QT is going away for nothing, and in one or two years we all have to pay for using QT in OpenSource. Nokia hat get much of money in German to build a factory for mobile Devices. After a short time, the minimum time for becomming the million, the take the money with them an go away.

I think the community must do them same. We had to leave QT and we had to beginn with a realy free Project. May be Richard Stallmann ist right. We cant go with such people. On their way there is no freedom.

Daniel says:

Wow, congratulations.

I hope everything goes fine for you. I think this is a great opportunity to free software, but make sure you keep working like you have been until now.

Good luck!

anonymous says:

For me it is also very difficult to be positive about this announcement. I’m based in Finland and have seen many Nokia acquisitions go completely wrong. The corporate culture there is quite rotten, and they have considerable difficulty wrt brain-drain. I hope my gut feeling is wrong and Nokia is able to give you trolls a good boost and Qt and Qtopia wider industry exposure. However I can’t shake the feeling that this will backfire in the long run.

Even if Trolltech assures me that everything is going to be OK, I’m still worried. I haven’t forgotten Nokia’s [url=http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/12/11/1339251]recent[/url] [url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071210-nokia-wants-w3c-to-remove-out-ogg-from-upcoming-html5-standard.html]dismissal[/url] of Ogg Vorbis for HTML5 and their preferences for proprietary video and audio codecs for the web (and besides that, their phones don’t even include support for Ogg Vorbis out of the box). IMHO this makes Nokia hostile to open source, it demonstrates that they want to use the open source community for their own gain instead of collaborating with it. Even if they produce the open source Maemo platform and their N810 internet tablet, I don’t trust them. And so far they have been using GTK+ for the Maemo platform, so why are they suddenly interested in Qt(opia)?

I hope this will bring a new era to us KDE developers.
Nokia is already commited to Free/Open Source Software (as seen in Tapioca, WebKit and others), and if Trolltech people continue on their posts, everything will only improver over time.
To those who are afraid, don’t forget Qt’s poison pill (more than 6 months with a free release, the last one can be unilatterally relicensed as BSD by KDE e.V).

Go Nokia!

fred says:

I hope this acquisition would bring a boost for Trolltech and Qt, and not end up like SuSE which was acquired by Novell.

Andre says:

This is terrible news. I’m very concerned right now. I hope this turns out better than I believe it will.

anonymous says:

Nokia? Why Nokia? There’s something fundamentally wrong with Nokias management. No way, these people will even try to think about the positive effects of Open Source (other than the idea of getting something free of charge) “Giving” has never been part of their vocabulary and never will be. Damn, this company made over 7 billion Euros net profit in 2007 and every cent of it will go to the share-holders. Don’t ever think, this money will end up in the purses of their employees (not to speak of employees of lately purchased companys) or even machines or equipment of their factories. All factories of Nokia have been largely paid by subsidies from the governments of the country where the factory is located in.

Mark says:

Hopefully the announcement that Qt has been ported to Symbian/Series 60 will follow soon as this is an area I’m interested in moving into.

I don’t like this. It’s the same story as always, the big fish eats the small one. Nokia says that they will support community and that they will continue to develop Qt and Qtopia in an open source software, and I belive at least the last part. Also probably Nokia will start using Qt and Qtopia more and more and I like it.

But there’s always a downside. Nokia does not share all the interests that Trolltech had. And the special and frightening point which makes me very very skeptical about this acquisition is that NOKIA IS TOTALLY PRO SOFTWARE PATENTS. Source, the FFII: http://eupat.ffii.org/gasnu/nokia/index.en.html . Think about it! Shameful. Most probably most if not all the Trolls (Thomas Zander seems clearly against, as I can read in a post from him one month ago http://labs.trolltech.com/blogs/2007/12/02/underdeserved-technology-and-other-great-gems/ ) are agains software patents, but Nokia position is pro software patents!

Andre says:

I just realised I commented without reflecting too much. Perhaps you can delete my first comment. It just that I’m a bit worried about big companies acquiring companies that engage in open source projects. Let’s see how this turns out before we judge it. Sorry for dooming it prematurely.

anonymous says:

This is very worrying. I don’t trust Nokia at all. Trolltech is one of the jewels of the Free Software ecosystem and was doing fine alone. It doesn’t need to sell itself to another bigger entity, it’s successful on its own. I don’t see anything positive that might come out of that deal, and much negative. But hey, I don’t want to be a Cassandra, so here are my best wishes that Qt development will continue just as usual.

Mario Torre says:

It’s hard for me to be positive either. For one side, Nokia has shown to be committed in the Open Source software, I think about the Bluetooth stack in Linux, the Maemo platform and WebKit, for example. But from the other side they are quite closed minded, no developers tool available on Linux despite the various requests, even Carbide.j was a Windows only thing, without a real reason, poor respect for standard like Ogg and Theora, interaction between Nokia phones and Linux box reduced to the bare minimum, etc… I hope it will turn out to be a good move for QT. Keep up with the good work!

I think this is a powerful move by nokia to try to save itself. Despite the fact that they are at 40% marketshare, Nokia/Symbian sucks, and it is all becoming about software. As I just blogged (http://whydoeseverythingsuck.com/2008/01/end-of-feature-phone-market-shifting.html ) I dont know that this is enough, but it is at least a step in the right direction to address the shifting marketplace.

Sander says:

Congratulations! Nokia is doing nice stufAnd did this all start before of after Nokia could try the final KDE 4 release? 🙂

Per Wigren says:

What about the KDE Free Qt Foundation? Does it still apply? What about the recent announcements on allowing BSD/MIT/other open source licenses to link to Qt?

Sander says:

Congratulations! Nokia is doing nice stuff with Linux lately. Will Qt 4.4 still be released when planned? And did this all start before of after Nokia could try the final KDE 4 release? 🙂

Nach says:

I’m worried, this doesn’t sound to good. Nokia has little reason to keep Trolltech and its products going in the same direction they are now. In fact, they could even want to buy out Trolltech to prevent them from creating QTopia to allow others to compete with their own phones.

A friend of mine also has a very good write up on why this could be very bad. ( http://insanecoding.blogspot.com/2008/01/say-goodbye-to-former-qt-and-hello-to.html )

Chris Samuel says:

I guess this is why the fact that QT is available under the GPL is a great idea, even if Nokia do harm TrollTech through this purchase there is nothing to stop others from taking over the last GPL’d version (or any previous one) and continuing from there. So there is still hope.

Who knows, TrollTech might infect Nokia with some common sense about standards!

Good luck all..

Michel says:

As long as the BSD-contract isn’t given up, I’m happy for you 🙂

Jerome says:

I’m very worried and cannot feel happy about this. Are the goals of Nokia compatible with Qtopia ?

zbenjamin says:

I’m worried also. Hopefully Nokia will not do any bad things and continues with the business model and openess of Trolltech.
Looking at the most recent thing that Nokia did in Germany does not make me feel very good about this.

Good luck for all Troll’s hopefully everything goes well

Manfred says:

Nokia’s lost a lot of customers sympathy lately.
I hope not, but I’m afraid you’ll regret this step.

I wish you good luck.

aep says:

i wish i could believe you.
unfortunatly Trolltech has proven to think open source comunity = kde

Kiran T N says:

I feel this move is more towards a long run (internal) product planning for Nokia, a better secured future for their mobiles and its platforms. Which I believe should not effect the current ecosystem around Qt (not sure about Qtopia). Lets agree to the fact if Nokia had not done this others would have !!

Anyway Goodluck Trolls. Let’s hope for something good.

JLa says:

And given the competition from Apple iPhone – where does this leave the MacOS-version of Qt? Not in a very good position to be sure. Oi-oi-oi …

kanibal says:

I guess that this is the end of OpenMoko phones as the mayor focus of qtopia, or maybe this means that we will have a OpenNokia Neo1973 or FreeRunner.

It’s good to be optimistic!!!!!!!!

Maybe they are trying to stop OpenMoko popularity, what do you think?

rix says:

I can understand some interest from Nokia in QTopia, but I have more doubt about their real interest in both Qt/Windows and Qt/Mac, so let’s hope they will not cut down development of these on the long term. On the other hand, let’s hope that this will announce an upcoming Qt/Symbian version, which could be terrific !

Martin Fusek says:

Nokia only need equivalent of Google’s Android (Java SDK for phones): Qt Jambi, and some SDK for Linux UMPC: Qt X11, Qtopia is not needed (they have Symbian)

Zandru says:

Congratulations to Nokia, they will most certainly profit from this decision. However i’m not sure what this means to the rest of us: Will Trolltechs focus shift entirely to Qtopia now? Will they yank up license costs? I know they say they will continue the dual-license model, but are they really interested to keep it up in a good faith? Only time will tell. I’m very worried :-/

I can’t help but to feel dissapointed. I do not think Nokia will honor the FLOSS movement as good as TT does, and also I’m afraid for Qt’s development outside cellphones 🙁 . Let’s hope I’m totally wrong.

Psychotron says:

Lars, maybe you can explain to us how this is “exciting news for everyone”? I honestly fail to see that. If Trolltech was my company, an I had put such a lot of blood and sweat into it, as I bet you Trolls have done, the last thing I would do is to sell it to a billion dollar company like Nokia. I mean this is defacto the end of free decisions. Or do you just put a good face on the matter while actually don’t have a say in the deal anyway, because it’s some venture capital companys who actually own Trolltech?

Michael

Zandru says:

@Psychotron: “May you live in exciting times” is not a blessing. Instead, it’s an old Chinese curse! Maybe this is what Lars was hinting at 😉

Andre says:

Zandru: I thought it was “interesting times”? 😉

reinhard says:

you will terribly regret this move. this is the end.

TommyDrum says:

My heart is beating fairly fast, so this going to be an angry post.

Trolltech acquired by Nokia? Why does it always end that the best end up getting eaten by the majors? Nokia has been repeatedly considered *HOSTILE* to the free/open source movement and labour rights, pro-patent and now they try to make us “good friends”?
Gentlemen, all this is at least fishy:

As mentioned by others Nokia is trying to HINDER open source/free development in various ways:
1. The aforementioned Ogg Vorbis esclusion from the HTML 5.0 draft ( http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071210-nokia-wants-w3c-to-remove-out-ogg-from-upcoming-html5-standard.html )
2. Nokia, even after the effective failure of DRM, continues to try pushing to us, musicians and listeners, to adopt a copyright/DRM scheme. “Comes with music”, but only temporarily ( http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071204-nokias-unlimited-comes-with-music-plan-misses-the-boat-due-to-drm.html )
3. By personal experience, “Connecting people” is the MOST FALSE PUB SLOGAN that has ever been invented: Nokia does NOT allow for bilinguals, such as I am, being both Greek and Italian, to have both languages on a cellphone: What the hell do I care for the GPL in QT if Nokia continues to produce mobile devices which are tuned with economic advantages (for them) in mind, and I cannot even have the two languages I SPEAK on the same phone, because Greek and Italian are inserted in totally different firmwares? “Connecting people” my a**.
4. When 46 million batteries are recalled because of possible overheating, can Nokia be considered “serious” as in “responsible”? Outsourcing everything? Not having control over what they produce? Does that say anything about what Nokia thinks about consumers-objects?
5. What about Nokia’s factories shutting down ( http://www.therawfeed.com/2008/01/germans-slam-nokia-over-factory-closure.html ) ? And what about the 2.300 (TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED!) employees getting laid? Or the GPL can also cover them?
6. What about Nokia being accused of labour rights violations ( http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2005/02/feature/fi0502203f.htm )? Oh, yeah, the GPL is what is important.
7. Has anyone at Trolltech seen the 922 (NINE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TWO!) patents filed by Nokia at the European patent office? ( http://eupat.ffii.org/gasnu/nokia/index.en.html ) WTF ARE YOU THINKING???? “GPL”?

And these are just a few.

So, WTF is Trolltech thinking?? You think that, just because of the GPL, Nokia will be able to put aside its hostile policies and its multinational ultra-globalised ultra-marketing and publicity oriented nutjobs (also called Managers)?

DO NOT DO THIS! Or at least, no for “GPL”‘s sake.

I’m not a programmer. If I was, I would FORK RIGHT NOW.

The least I can do if Trolltech gets bought is send a big “F*** OFF” and remove all QT related apps from my pc, and CONVINCE everyone I know to do the same. Trolltech, this is the internet, it’s not a f***ing playground.

Shame, shame and shame. I always thought that “free” doesn’t come only by a “GPL” label on a “product” (and the awesome KDE development of the with the great lead by Aaron demonstrated what “freedom” really means). But no, Trolltech’s trying to convince me that the GPL’s all is needed. I’m not buying that.

If this goes on as intended, I will boycott Trolltech, as I have always boycotted Nokia. And I suggest others follow, or the future of freedom will be really grim.

(not rereading, so forgive any errors please).

romain says:

Well, it can be a good thing, even if Nokia is not famous for their open-source support this is a big company with lot of experience.
We’ll see if trolltech will keep their goods up, but I’m sure they will 🙂

SPud says:

Does this mean TT is going to be sold for approximately 100 Mio EUR, or have I miscalculated?
Quoting from http://trolltech.com/company/newsroom/announcements/press.2008-01-28.4605718236 :
“Nokia will offer NOK 16 per share in cash … 35,024,830 shares, representing approximately 66,43 % of Trolltech’s issued shares”

see http://www.google.com/search?q=+35%2C024%2C830+%2F+66.43%25+%2A+16+NOK+in+EUR

Doesn’t seem like much.

aep says:

nokia audio meeting http://www.libqxt.org/stuff/ sorry thats a direct rip from a windows user.
the audio stream was sent in two propriarty formats, from an all javascript page, so i wasnt able to hear it at all.

matze says:

@SPud:

You’re right, that’s about the price. Not much, indeed. NOK16 is the price per share at IPO, so actully the value of the company has not increased since then, in fact it has decreased a lot. It’s quite generous of Nokia to pay about double the current price per share.

So much for Trolltech being a “crown jewel” of the open source business eco system.

user says:

This is really bad news for future of KDE Desktop and free software world.

Nokia will try to milk as much out of this. They hardly care about Linux – their only concern is the money and quaterly results. This is a real blow to the KDE 4 project.

Marco says:

Nokia is using and controlling(47,9%) Symbian. Any sold Windows Mobile device or especially every Windows Mobile Phone is no Nokia device, so why should Nokia continue with Qt for Windows Mobile/CE?
Maybe they want use Qtopia on there devices, but why should they licence Qtopia to the rivalry (for a fair price)?
Nokia is no software company, the tools nokia provides for their phones are buggy and instable since they are available. So providing good development tools, even for their own hardware, isn’t Nokias strength and at least not their core business.
Nokia is currently using Qt as many other companys. Ok, nice but no reason to buy his supplier…

Donald says:

I am not aware of the evil events that follow Nokia take overs. All I know is, Qtopia Core (Qt embedded) is glorious, and for a period it appeared that no-one was going to adopt it and lob it at the Western world. This threat, the threat of obscurity and the threat of zero point adoption, has just become a twinkle in its daddies eye.

I have enjoyed every Nokia device I have ever owned (And don’t give a flying f#$% about EU violations they have theoretically commited)

Nokia hardware + embedded Linux + Qtopia Core based Nokia phone software = squeaking heels on bathroom tiles for me.

I hope Nokia keep their paws off base Qt development, directing product management, but not actually imposing completely alien priorities.
And I hope Qt boots gtk out of the openmoko platform.

KDE apps on my Nokia N810? Don’t mind if I do.

Biggest danger

Before today : Trolltech -> Broke (Assuming share holders embedded centric)
after today: Trolltech -> Deviantly driven towards embedded concerns

Where can I preorder a Green-tazer-up-Steves-butt? (:p)

user says:

This is my last day as KDE developer. I have NO faith in nokia doing any good to KDE/Linux.

I am really sad today hearing this news.

Donald says:

Another douche bites the dust

Where is that British fighting spirit. This isn’t even the Germans, its the Finns for f@#!s sake.
You might get a collateral kick in the head by a twitching Scandinavian corpse, but the danger is indirect.

Captain crunch to ground control

Happy go lucky says:

So much negativity and pessimism. And all of it based on nothing else than ignorance and fear. The trolls are not stupid you know… I trust them to do whatever is the best for them (and Qt and Qtopia).

Congratulations!

David Johnson says:

Wow, a lot of anger here! I didn’t know Nokia was so thoroughly reviled in Europe. Elsewhere someone suggested Google buy Trolltech, but Google is just as “evil” as any other corporation. Maybe even more so, because they have the silly idea that they are immune. Besides, there still exists the FreeQt agreement, so Qt will never become unfree.

Sergey B. says:

Problem is that Qt can be a bad library, if Nokia will development Qtopia as mainstream.
But I’ll hope that all be alright, just wait comments from Troll, Nokia, Qt Free Foundation.

AlKu says:

@Donald:

“Where is that British fighting spirit. This isn’t even the Germans, its the Finns for f@#!s sake.”

What’s that supposed to mean?! (“…isn’t even the Germans…”) … ?!

Sergei K. says:

Well..what’s the purpose of the selling-buying of Trolltech? Does it have any financial problems? Well, I dont think so. I really cant understand.
I have only several thoughts:
1) Throlltech does not really understand the effects. Nokia managers just cheat giving wonderfull slogans and promising progress and welth…
2) Everything is bought. Trolltech will recieve money for closing eyes on OpenSource projects and for doing what Nokia says…

ps. “KDE: The Fall Of KDE”, watch it in 2008.

Jurij says:

the timing couldn’t be worse… KDE 4 needs all the stability and support it can get now, not being threatened with a port to a new technology…

on the onther had: if nokia did good, i’d really like to see better support for sychronising their phones…

Clever? says:

The timing of the latest news wasn’t clever.

Why was the GPL/3 licensing not delayed until tomorrow or so.
Seems the Trolls fear that it would not happen as Nokia-Troll.

I also miss more commitment to the Community. “10 new KDE
developers, …”. I’m waiting for really big news. I don’t
trust “nothing changes” because then why should someone buy
Trolltech?

At least there will be no “cross”-culture problems.

Donald says:

@AIKu

The finns are hardly a historical source of terror, unless you are perhaps Lappish, in which case you might care to disagree and can vocalize your wrath at the nearest poodles puckered sphincter. (The Germans on the other hand are wooly barbarians who dropped a bomb on grandpop, invaded our historical fish and chip shop, and fed their weiners to my great granny, Teutonic style (Mustard involved))

Although I love a little doom with my corn flakes, I can’t help but think :

1) This makes Trolltech relevant in a broader context. Lets assume Nokia are sane, and see the fact that all work on the Qt back end directly benefits them. Although the Trolltech revenue is probably chump change to them, it is a revenue stream none-the-less, and since all they have to do is :

*Continue to use standard c++ in the library development
*Have as little impact as possible on the existing Trolltech Qt infrastructure.

I will be surprised if they screw the pooch.

2) The bastard progeny will have Zacks eyes. (Which were pretty last time I asked for his humble opinion)

3) Since I am drunk on optimism, lets really milk this. Assume they are using standard Qtopia Core, and their device ships with a standard set of Qtopia Core libraries. Guaranteed binary compatibility. Purchase another Qt license and deploy to embedded customers (spastics) alongside your regular customer base.

4) They are obviously going to dictate the developmental direction of Qt, but I think their functional requirements will lead them in a direction which benefits Trolltechs historical customers. People concerned with high performance, flexible widget sets, powerful sane APIs supporting rapid intuitive development (Not cut and pasted). Qtopia Cores existence has been nothing but a boon for Qt, and I hope this event makes people realize exactly what it offers.

5) The mobile phone market has gotten very competitive. I own an Iphone, and even with no official SDK available the development env is hopping. I don’t think anyone competing in the mobile market can afford to ignore the fact that people want to write their own applications, and to dictate the software on their devices. I think the KDE dev community, which has some serious technical might and have a fair repertoire of incredible applications might get courted by the Nokia Barons.

6) Its far too early for the rampant optimism evident on this blog. (Fly somewhere with some sunshine, and look at a girls ankles. Then you will feel all better)

I think this is very good news for embedded Linux, and c++ developers the world round.

Donald says:

@AlKu

witty response singe in flames of fickle page refresh (general insulting of Teutonic types)

@forum

1) Qt additional income stream (no worries) Qt base library directly corresponds to Qtopia Core. No reason to stop existing development, stop using standard c++

@Clever

They can completely manage product direction
Prevent a hostile takeover
They might think the technology is a good investment, the embedded development env is getting more fractured, not less. standard c++ future proofs them

@KDE dudes

Please stop acting like this is a big f@%# you from Trolltech. They are a commercial enterprise. I think you people are part of the package, and that you might be able to effortlessly deploy your apps on mainstream embedded devices in the future. Why assume you are going to get screwed? And hows does this negatively impact the Qt libraries? No new widgets? No DoTheF#$@WhatIWantWidget? No maintenance? Unrealistic. QMainWindow now has a maximum width of 800 pixels. Aaaaaaiiiiiiiiii

I am a happy camper, but maybe that is because I just got mauled by a bear and dig it like that

Patent Troll says:

The poison pill will be negated if Nokia patents large amounts of Qt. Any forks now or before the last GPL release will be patent violations effectively killing an Open Source version. If Nokia choses to do so it can kill all but its proprietary version after acquisition. Broad sweeping patents will make anything less of a major or full rewrite mandatory.

Very scary times indeed.

qtuser says:

I wish I could say I had good feelings about this, but as of today. I do not have any.

So much for my dream version for the iPhone.

And I really, really, really question Nokia’s long term support for Qt desktop commerical. Worse, I could see them dropping the OSX version. Since from what I gathered, they basically bought a phone os today along with a excellent toolset.

Reality says:

@Donald
History has already spoke on cooperate culture and it’s operation and it’s goals. History has yet again already spoke as to what happens when a more “powerful” culture assimilates “less powerful” one.

Donald says:

@Reality

I have no solid personal experience, and I take exception to people assuming open hostility as the primary motive when there are many available.

@forum

So Nokia were toting Maemo, and trying to inspire a development community. I think an army of 100 responded, and I have yet to see someone pull out a maemo based device and use it for anything other than squishing. You can’t buy a community, but the KDE community are the closest, cheapest damn thing to a community on wheels. The last place I worked had a strong KDE presence, and a choir of 11 made me want to perforate my ear drums with my lutevisk pick. You know how much an Apple fanboy costs? KDE fanboys, and general open source zealots are almost as powerful, and they are comparatively free. Nokia just bought a full freaking community, and if they nurture it they will put up a wizenly good old European fight to the Balrog that is Apple.

I have never ported an application from KDE to Qt yet I am strangely optomistic. (And frankly am suprised that Qt open source development is not more clearly evident)
Imagine a Nokia device, with all the base PDA applications you would want, a full generic set of the Qt(opia Core) libraries and a decent Qt based package manager, with the possibility of custom repositories.

I need to see a man about a horse, and wring said horses neck.

Not so anon says:

And regarding the patent crap spouted here :

“When its the only game in town………”

I think the system is fundementally borked, but when a man rides towards you with a drawn sword, you don’t greet him with roses. (I remember when Europe appeared to be a bastion of sanity, back when we (pre fuzz school kids) were learning about Bismarck and the french revolution. Thats what happens when you put away your grains wet.)

Realist says:

@Donald

Your lack of personal experience is your own failing to use something as simple as a search engine. Nokia’s track record is well documents.

I am sure there were plenty of native Americans speaking as you do to the others when the Conquistador arrived.

I for one am not sure of any intent on destroying KDE but again History has shown large corporations (Microsoft for one) go about attacking Open Source initiatives from very creative angles since it is a guerrilla war with no evident single point of attack.

I am glad you are an optimist but no amount of positive thinking is going to change History, and the odds favor it repeats.

Sunil says:

This is seemingly a great move but, LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP!!

Googling: nokia + “software patents” gives you great results.

Remember the Nokia’s announcements ( http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-10545/dogmia-bites-nokia-s-karmia )
“All of Europe’s innovators, including individual inventors, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), as well as large multinational companies, require patents to protect their inventions, provide incentives to undertake research and development in Europe, and to promote licensing and technology transfer.”

Wow great statement!!

I think nokia is playing the micro economics here …. ( http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html )
“Demand for a product increases when the prices of its complements decrease. ”
Qtopia is now completely GPL !! that justifies Qtopia,

But I am worried about Nokia’s interest in Qt and Desktop applications.
why would it fund the labs and its projects …

Nokia is a huge supporter of patents, Open source and patents don’t mix
you are MIXING CRUDE OIL in water …

Craig Ringer says:

I’m astonished at the negative attitude here. I’m concerned about this too, as I’m an enthusiastic Qt user (both in my own software and through my use of software written by others) and I’d hate to face problems in my use of Qt as a result of this deal. However, I’m in touch enough to note that TrollTech have been doing amazing work and have been kind enough to let me use it under a license that permits me to use it in open source software, without cost, for as long as I like even if they no longer exist as a company.

I for one want to say thanks for that. I’m sure you guys don’t hear it enough. I realise there are perfectly reasonable business reasons behind the long standing availability of Qt/X11, and the recent release of Qt4/Win and Qt/Mac under the GPL, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that it’s a cool thing to be doing that few people would do. Doubly so if they had software as good as Qt.

Of course, like many people I thought “Oh no” when I saw the headlines. I’m still worried, given that:

– Nokia’s enthusiasm for software patents and locked-down systems ( Yes, I know about the 770/800, but that’s not exactly a star either ) is well noted.

– Nokia are a control-freak carrier’s best friend, because they’ll gladly cripple the phone firmware to the carrier’s specs. Want a handset with bluetooth hardware but BT disabled in software unless the customer pays an additional unlocking fee? Check. Want a handset with an SD card reader that’s been disabled by the carrier? Check. And so on.

– Nokia’s focus is on mobile and embedded platforms, with little interest in desktop software. Their desktop software, like the Nokia Suite, is pretty terrible.

– They continue to inflict Series 60 on the world despite all the pleas, begging, and people screaming “make it stop!”.

However, there are few things people here have largely been missing. The most important one is that right now, Qt rocks. Qt4 is in a great state thanks to the amazing work of the folks at TrollTech. The codebase and tools as they stand are fantastic, well written, clean, and maintainable. That will not go away. Nokia cannot revoke the GPL2/GPL3 license on the Qt suite, and stopping distributing it directly would only be hilariously pointless since the sources must be some of the most wide spread that there are. Nokia cannot patent features or facilities in existing Qt versions and expect an infringement suit to stick in court, since the prior art is *their* *own* *product*. Contesting the case would not be likely to be a problem. Ponder for a second who’d be likely to get involved in a court case that might encumber Qt. I won’t say that no patent system could be stupid enough to permit and enforce a patent as described above, but it’s a bit of a stretch even for the worst of them. On top of that, Qt3 and Qt4 are now available under GPLv3, which include some patent protection, so there is absolutely nothing to worry about unless Nokia stop publishing new releases under GPL2/GPL3 terms.

So, to my mind the worst consequence likely would that Nokia would stop making releases, or produce new releases under GPLv2 only that incorporated patented Nokia “technology”. The former would be unfortunate in that it’d take the great work the TT folks do with Qt’s ongoing support, maintenance, documentation, etc away from the OSS community, and it’d mean that some good people were no longer active in Qt/KDE circles. Qt Open Source would devolve to a BSD license, but existing projects wouldn’t care much. However, it would not be the end of the world by any stretch. The second possibility isn’t significantly worse, since at worst it means that the last GPL2/GPL3 release is available. It’s more likely that we’d see a WebKit like situation – “here’s what Apple produce, and here’s what happens once we patch it to clean the restricted code and the crud out and make it portable again” – if the improvements were good enough, or a fall back to the last TT release if they weren’t.

So, (open source) folks, Qt isn’t going away. Breath. Calm down. At worst you’ll get the same code under the same license terms that you do right now. Commercial customers are unlikely to be in any danger unless Nokia actively tries to kill Qt with minimum-required-frequency OSS releases (to stave off the BSD license trigger) and stops commercial Qt developement. That is not a course of action that would make sense.

Consider, also, that you do not know what would be happening if Trolltech had not sold to Nokia. If the comments indicating that the sale price is around $100k US are in vaguely the right area, then you have to ask if TrollTech was seeking a buyer as an alternative to something less pleasant. Making great software is not, alas, a guaranteed recipe for massive financial success. This is all speculative nonsense, of course, but it’s unarguably true that we *don’t* know what all the alternatives were.

As for Nokia’s embedded/mobile focus and cultural issues, that’s what bothers me the most. TrollTech clearly has a culture of engineering excellence backed up by serious brainpower. Nokia … well, their hardware is impressive within the parameters they design it to, but those parameters are rather limited and the software is just ugly. Their management are not known for their enlightened, open ways or an interest in change and adaptation. I don’t see the two playing well together unless it’s at arms reach enforced by bars in the playground, but I’m not sure how well the bars will stand up to the gnat-vs-gorilla weight difference on each side.

Still, the TrollTech folks have a strong history of fantastic work behind them, and sensible management would use a light touch and ensure they had a lot of freedom with which to work. With luck, Nokia are trying to branch out and are interested in a bit of change, adaptation, and innovation, and that’s why they’re buying TT. After all, do you see them buying TT so they can get Qt on Symbian? (Insert poor analogy about something like trying to strap a jet engine into the trusses of a horse-cart with square wheels).

Take an alternative optimistic view. Maybe we’ll see some nice Nokia platform connectivity stuff available for Qt apps, allowing 3rd party apps and tools to communicate sanely with Qt-based Nokia platforms. Perhaps Nokia’s size and longevity will inspire confidence in commerical Qt licensees, leading to more growth and enhancement in the desktop/non-embedded Qt. Perhaps, if the right people at Nokia are thinking the right way, the TT acquisition will start to shift some attitudes within Nokia, especially when their first Qt-based phone beats S60 senseless and leaves it in a gutter to die like we all wish it would. Maybe business will go on as usual.

I think the doom and gloom is a bit premature. So, seriously, let’s calm down and see what happens, shall we? If *I* worked at TT, I’d be right peeved right now at this rather poor showing by a small subset of the Qt-using community. Well wishes, thanks, or any semblance of gratefulness for anything they’ve done in the past has been conspicuously thin on the ground. I just hope most of you aren’t OSS developers, because any OSS developer should know just how much it sucks to get whined and yelled at over something you gave the person doing the yelling for free in the first place. Consequently, any OSS developer really should know better than to carry on like some of what I’ve seen above.

Let’s just attribute it to the slashdot crowd, shall we?


Craig Ringer

Jason says:

After having slept on it, I am of the opinion that this is bad.

Nokia can get Qt’s feature set by being a Qt user. It does not need to by the company to enjoy Qt. This buy-out is only sensible if Nokia wants TT’s profits (not likely) or if they want to control development initiatives. I fear it is the latter. Invariably Nokia will try see Qt through its phone-colored glasses. I bet Nokia mgt is seeing this as an acquisition of some awesome development talent for their phones. If this is indeed the case, then we’ll see Qt get mobile-centric, and more desktop-heavy features will be left off. Before, I was happy with the arrangement, in that Qt development stretched the breadth of computer software. I am not convinced that this will remain the case.

And indeed, this is the only conclusion I cam come to. That the current direction of Qt is not suitable to Nokia and they need to change it. Where that direction was once suitable to me, it surely isn’t. Let’s hope TT’s shareholders vote this down.

Giovanni Bajo says:

@Jason: wasn’t Qtopia commercial license royalty-based? In this case, a buy-out from Nokia makes a terrible sense if they want to deploy it to millions of new mobiles… plus, competitors using symbian will then have to pay *nokia* for qtopia licenses.

Concerned says:

There is no reason for Nokia to keep Qtopia around. By killing it they destroy Linux smartphone competition for Symbian. They further diminish their competitors like Motorola. Finally, the acquisition would appear to be a power-grab for Qt, nothing more. They are raiding Trolltech for 1) Qt and 2) Engineering staff. Qtopia is utterly irrelevant to them but killing it would be of more value than keeping it alive. That is what I see in these moves.

Pat says:

I think it means good news for the commercial world but bad ones for the “free” world…
Free QT days seem numbered…
But in the other hand in order to put QT “everywhere” the future should see commercial versions reasonably priced…
Also maintenance contracts schemas should be first, more affordable, and second, “customers” should be able to keep getting minor revisions for free and major revision for a fee like Microsoft does with its compilers independently of ANY maintenance contract….

BTW: 150 Millions for QT isn’t it cheap?

Donald says:

@Craig

Nicely stated, and a glimmer of sanity in the froth of the mob

@forum

The phone market really received a kick in the arse with the release of the Iphone. The portal media player market fell before Apple, and ITunes which is frankly the worst application I have ever used gained supreme presence, due to the ability to tie the device to your desktop machine with common look and feel and behavior between the device and the associated application. I think the telecom industry is sweating, and rightly so. Apple have Mac OS X covered, it will be hard to beat them in terms of integration. But using Qt on the device, and being able to deploy the exact same suite of integration apps to every single mainstream (and not!) platform holds obvious value.

Reasons to buy Trolltech

1) Manage product direction
2) Prevent competitive buyout
3) Secure companies future (Can you imagine a giant like Nokia staking their future on a product purchased from a small fish in the public domain. Dont be freaking mad)
4) Giant obvious development talent (Can’t be underestimated)

Any single reason would suffice :

Here are the reasons I see mentioned above.

1) Because Nokia hate me!
2) Because they hate our freedom! (Oh say can you see..)
3) Corporate angst
4) To remove competitors (Because the Qtopia 2 based devices in the East are giving them shivers. (The explosive growth of Apple is no cause for concern))
5) Some tripe about corporate culture bleh bleh bleh

Look at the mutually exclusive lists, and reach your own conclusions.

Donald says:

As a friend pointed out, Android also supports this tend :

*Apple
*Android (Which Nokia was remarkably quiet about)
*Qt based OpenMoko successor

The first 2 platforms are open. (Involuntarily in the first case)
Do you think anyone is dumb enough to buck this trend? Lets hope not.

Moenie Panic nie.

Realist says:

@Donald

Nice verbal diarrhea. Unfortunately that is all it was, nothing but your opinion while others use facts to support their arguments.

Time will tell, we can discuss later.

Donald says:

@Realist

Its all sheer conjecture, only my crud assumes Nokia aren’t the devil incarnate

Miroslav says:

@Donald,

stop making a useless propaganda of your wanna-be verbal skills. These guys at trolltech are great but you are only a spamming troll.

Commenting closed.

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