Nokia moves quickly into the mobile software development space

Nokia today announced it will acquire Trolltech, a Norwegian company with more than 5,000 customers relying on its commercial- and open source-licensed software used by well-known companies.

Trolltech is best known for its Qt and Qtopia services, widely used in the free and open source software markets. The Qt software package is designed to allow developers to create and update GUIs for mobile phones. It currently can be found in KDE, Opera, Skype, Google Earth, and other programs requiring cross-platform functionality. Nokia plans to promote the Qt technology under the Trolltech banner in the future, in the open source and commercial sectors.

Meanwhile, Qtopia allows content makers to develop content in an easier manner than having to write code for every new custom feature launched on a phone or other device. The software is used by a small handful of Linux-based phones and mobile media players, with future announcements likely.

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Nokia will lean heavily on Trolltech for its intricate knowledge of mobile Internet services, which continues to be a principal goal for mobile phone manufacturers and providers. The merger will also help Nokia reduce time-to-market issues, as software will be written in-house by Trolltech and won't need to be licensed from other companies.

According to statistics compiled by In-Stat in 2006, more than 250 million smartphones will be in use by 2010, a dramatic increase from the 50 million units reportedly shipped in 2005. Phone manufacturer Motorola also has taken an increased interest in open source technology over the past two years, with an official Motorola open source Web site.

Further, more than one billion phones on the market today use Sun Microsystems' open source Java platform.

The two companies agreed to the buyout for an estimated NOK 843 million ($153 million USD), or NOK 16 ($2.92 USD) per share. The merger must now be approved by shareholders and government regulations in Norway, though no major problems are expected. Both sides hope the deal will be completed this spring.

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