Nokia to acquire Qt-maker Trolltech

Jan 28, 2008

Trolltech, the originator of Qt, which forms the basis of the Linux KDE desktop environment, is being acquired by Nokia, the world’s number-one mobile phone vendor. Nokia expects its acquisition of Trolltech to accelerate its cross-platform software strategy for mobile devices and desktop applications, and to enhance its Internet services business.

Nokia reportedly will offer NOK 16 — about US$2.94 — per share in cash for Trolltech’s stock. The company has about 52 million shares outstanding, so Nokia’s offer amounts to around $153 million (US dollars).

Trolltech says its board of directors has unanimously recommended that its shareholders accept Nokia’s Offer, and holders of approximately 66.43 percent of Trolltech’s issued shares and votes have already approved the offer.

In addition to key software assets, Trolltech’s “talented team will play an important role in accelerating the implementation of Nokia’s software strategy,” according to a statement issued today by Trolltech.

According to Trolltech, Nokia’s software strategy for devices is based on cross-platform development environments, enabling the development of applications across the Nokia device range. Trolltech’s cross-platform Qt and Qtopia toolkits will enable Nokia and third party developers to develop applications that work in the Internet, across Nokia’s device portfolio, and on PCs.

Trolltech says Nokia plans to continue the development of the existing Trolltech products, for both desktop and mobile applications, and will provide support for both new and existing customers. Additionally, “to further stimulate industry innovation based on Trolltech’s products, Nokia intends to continue Trolltech’s practice of dual-licensing its technology, under both commercial and open source licenses.

Commenting on the acquisition, Trolltech CEO and founder Haavard Nord told, “When we founded Trolltech 14 years ago, Eirik and I wanted to create a software development framework that would make life easier for software developers. We came up with a vision of ‘Qt Everywhere,’ where our technology would enable efficient development and deployment of applications across a wide range of operating systems and devices. With the announcement today, our ‘Qt Everywhere’ can become a reality.”

“The technology landscape evolves and, for Nokia, software plays a major role in our growth strategy for devices, PCs and the integration with the Internet,” added Kai Oistamo, Nokia’s executive VP for devices, in a statement. “We continue to focus on areas where we can differentiate and add more value. 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.”

Trolltech was founded in 1994 by Haavard Nord and Eirik Chambe-Eng, with the goal of creating a cross-platform toolkit for developing graphical user interfaces using C++. Trolltech’s “Qt” toolkit subsequently was used as the basis of Linux’s highly popular KDE desktop application environment, and has been released by the company under the open source GPL license (the company announced earlier this month that it will soon release Qt under the GPLv3). In 2000, Trolltech introduced Qtopia, a small-footprint, embeddable version of Qt that targets Linux-based devices. The company currently has about 250 employees and is publicly traded on Oslo Stock Exchange; its ticker symbol is “TROLL.”

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including acceptance by shareholders representing more than 90 percent of the fully diluted share capital, and the necessary regulatory approvals.

UPDATE: An “Open letter to KDE and the Open Source community,” signed by Haavard Nord and Eirik Chambe-Eng, Trolltech co-founders, and Lee Williams, Senior VP of Nokia, can be found here (PDF download).

6 responses to “Nokia to acquire Qt-maker Trolltech”

  1. Ivica Loncar says:

    Sun should by Trolltech.
    Schwartz, do you hear?

  2. steve wang says:

    I heard that nokia originally sold wood in the beginning and like fish sauce. I found a great article about the history of Nokia,

  3. M Reed says:

    Qt is the window & widget toolkit used by KDE. Qt is not the “basis” for KDE. Qt is not in any way the “originator” of KDE.

  4. Roy Schestowitz says:

    I’ve looked at many factors. All in all, it looks like bad news. I do want to like it, but I don’t think I can.

  5. lars says:

    Nokia is an old company who did lots of things, like boots, cable, car tires. Represented Elliot and ICL Computers in Finland. Produced Televisions and CRT:s, quite good PC:s. I remember when Bill Gates was in Finland promoting something, probably him self. Anyway according to Gates the black on white CRT produced by Nokia was the best in the world. And I think it actually was the best at that time. At some point Nokia put all the eggs in one basket starting to invest in handsets. The car tire division is still there as Nokian, and is doing fine but compleatly independent from Nokia.

    What I find interesting is that in a fairly short time Skype, MySQL, Trolltech and many other Scandinavian Open (or less) Source companies have been sold. Perhaps the reason is that the owners have reach an age, about 45 to 55, where it feels quite OK to make a change.

    I would have done the same, if possible (grief) but it was not possible. (nothing to sell).

    It is also possible that those companies reached a size where going forward was difficult. Anyway they reached a position where their know-how was known to other bigger companies.

    I like to think that this Scandinavian marriage is good. Nokia is a long time Linux user, very set and forced to extend the bussines beyond cellphones. With a 40% market share there is not much intelligence in trying to extend that. A 50% market share would be a indication of something gone awfully wrong. (just look at MS).

    In a way I am positively surprised to find that Nokia was aware of the value of Trolltech. I very much hope they can build something clever out of it.

  6. megadeth dude says:

    Nice post lars.