About the Nokia acquisition

Published Wednesday January 30th, 2008
18 Comments on About the Nokia acquisition
Posted in Aggregated, Contributors, Qt

The news about Nokia’s intentions to acquire Trolltech is very exciting and sobering at the same time. I would characterize my own opinions and thoughts as “cautiously optimistic.” As Trolls, we are still digesting the idea, discussing it amongst ourselves, and processing the incoming information from our own management team as well as the information from Nokia.

I hope that our community, both commercial and open-source alike, don’t get too distraught about a seemingly quiet Trolltech team. We, like you, just found out about this yesterday morning and need time to absorb what this means for us, for you, for everyone. After everything sinks in, we will come out with more information in the near future, and we appreciate your patience until then.

Rest assured, Nokia has the best intentions in making this move. More information will be available soon., however the message from Nokia is clear: development, sales, open-source and community support, etc. will continue as usual. Lee Williams, Senior VP, R&D at Nokia, told us Monday that Nokia wants us to teach them how to do cross-platform and open-source development on the desktop (and not just on mobile phones). This is a bit of a special acquisition because both Trolltech, in its current organizational form, and Nokia will be working together on what the future will bring.

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Posted in Aggregated, Contributors, Qt


Philippe says:

If Nokia is world #1 in their domain, they must not be too crasy.
For instance, they should know that good software is not something done in one day and, with Trolltech, they have a tremendous potential for the future. Who knows how things will look like in 5 years from now? The importance of desktop application in relationship with mobile devices? etc. With a XPlatform library as Qt, with Linux and Mac doing good and better everyday, Nokia has great creative and development opportunities.
They should also hopefully know that software technology without a motivated team behind it is aimed to dye, ie. it’s their own interest to keep the Trolltech soul alive and listen to the Trolls…

David says:

One scenario I would like to see play out is for the price of the commercial desktop software come way down or even go to zero. Nokia’s revenue stream is so big that perhaps they may not find it worth their time and effort to sell the Desktop software, or they might try to package the software and sell it to everyone for a really low price. Instead of having a sales force they may choose to focus on having a real professional services group.

Sylvain Pointeau says:

I am really afraid !!! I cannot believe that everything will stay the same, it is simply impossible and has never been seen.

Zandru says:

i have to admit that i didn’t think about how this could have come as a surprise to you trolls, too. So this takeover must be even more unsettling for you! I wish you the very best, so you can keep up the good work!

espenr says:

Speaking as a Troll that has been with the company for more than five years, I have to say my reaction is mixed as well.

I can’t speak for all Trolls, but I believe the reason we come to work every day is because of the people and the products we make – and to beat each other in fussball of course πŸ˜‰ (I beat everyone here in Oslo, but the Berlin office has a lot of really good players).

Just because NOKIA buys Trolltech doesn’t mean that the Trolls change. We’re still dedicated to each other, our customers and the community.

Change is always scary, but as Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

We’re freaking Trolls – have some faith in us πŸ˜‰

Jason says:

@espnr, it is not a question of faith in trolls. The trolls have always delivered in that respect. The problem is that the Marching orders no longer come from TT… TT is no longer self-determining.

In my reply yesterday I pondered why buying TT made sense over just buying Qt. Still, even with the new information this acquisition doesn’t seem like a good idea. If they want to learn how to make cross-platform apps, there are consulting & training agreements, etc. It seems that they are eluding to turning trolls into Nokia engineers to fill the needs of Nokia first, then the Qt community (in terms of time and effort). Such an arrangement will strain the community if there isn’t a large overlap.

And what is this about “learning to build” cross platform apps? Doesn’t Qt do that with a “make” on each platform?

The shareholders could always vote “No”…

Philippe says:

I work closely with a german company that was first bought by an american company. The americans wanted to keep the company independant, but in fact they wanted to control too much stuff. This was not good for anybody. Then the americans sold the german company to a huge Japanese company. The japanese truly respect the soul of the original german company, and everyone is very happy and making good business… there exists success stories!
The buyer should understand why/how the bought company could achieve its success, and keep that receipt. The worse is when the buyer just want to buy “some technology” and forgets the people that did it and are able to maintain it and making it better…

David Johnson says:

Life is about change. Without change we die. Whether this particular change will good or bad is yet to be seen. But I suspect that it will be.

Quim Gil says:

Hi there. I work at Nokia as product manager of the maemo development platform and I’m also involved (although not much these days) in the GNOME project.

Even if this post it’s centered in maemo and GNOME, maybe you will find some stuff interesting from a KDE community point of view: http://flors.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/gnomes-trolls-and-the-maemo-lands/

As you imagine, I’m also following this process with interest even if I’m not involved in it. I have deep respect for the trolls and the KDE community and it is cool to see how this move puts us closer. Looking forward to whatever comes next!

John says:

I think that for this to work commercially, Trolltech needs to be made into a standard subsidiary. If they are not and instant absorbed within some Nokia department, then commercially that is definitely unacceptable to companies that currently license from Trolltech.

Correa says:

As a commercial costumer, I’m secretly (perhaps not so much secretly) hopping that shareholders vote against the offer.
If Nokia wants to acquire Qt tecnology and “learn to do crossplatform”, they didn’t have to buy Trolltech, all they had to do was buy Qt licenses, RTFM and use the excelent TT support. Buying the company can only mean that they want TT to move into a direction they are not quite willing to do.

Perhaps they want to close up Qtopia to prevent competitors from licensing it, I don’t know. Or, Qtopia royalties fee for their volume was higher than the company price (after talking to TT sales about qtopia licensing options, not hard to imagine).

I fear that the quality of Qt might suffer, and new features might be leaning towards mobile related software. I understand that the Trolls will only post “optimistic” views, after all, this might be their “new boss”.

Philippe says:

Talented programmers like Trolls are rare and can find a good job elsewhere easily. It’s Nokia interest to keep everyone happy, staff and customers.

Giovanni Bajo says:

Yes, I don’t think why you have these doubts about “why buying TT instead of just Qt”. Nokia is surely interested in Qtopia, which has high royalty fees; Nokia sells *many* cellphones (it’s not an average company selling a few hundreds or maybe thousands of items). So buying out TT is surely a better ROI than planning to pay royalties for all their cellphones for the next few years. Plus, they must be aware that they’re very weak on the deskop side, so they think that with the acquisition also comes competence.

Really, it makes a terrible sense for Nokia this buyout, even if they don’t have a secret evil plan.

GiacomoL says:

Speaking as someone who went through acquisitions before: the initial message is always the same (“nothing will change, biz as usual”) simply because the buyer doesn’t want people to flee. “Real” decisions will be taken (and applied) after 6-to-12 months (in a European context like this; in the US it’s much faster, due to different labour regulations).

This said, Nokia does need the Trolls: for Qtopia and for Qt’s strength in cross-platform desktop development. The only bad thing is that Nokia doesn’t really need the KDE project, which for Trolltech was “the” promotional effort. That’s why I’m a bit worried: Nokia will certainly not fire or dismember the Qt team, but KDE could fall in the list of priorities. Unfortunately we can’t really do anything about that :/

Winchell says:

I hope this means that Maemo will be merged with Qt. I want to develop for the Nokia 850 internet tablet, and it would be wonderful if I could leverage my Qt skills.

Zandru says:

@GiacomoL: the KDE community really doesn’t need to worry: 1) they are not only promotionally useful to TT, instead they are a big help in finding bugs and making sure the Qt API is good. 2) Nokia made a strong statement in that they became KDE patron 3) even if all things go bad, the community can easily start a fork of Qt and be very happy with that. Of course further development on Qt will then probably slow down. But it’s not like they’ll have to switch to another GUI toolkit.

Giorgio says:

i hope that nothing change, but i’m a little bit worried because since jan 11 no decent post in this blog !!

Victor says:

I agree with Giorgio. !
When you will post a technically interesting message ?
What happens to Qt 4.3.4 ?
And QtWebkit in Qt 4.4 ?

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