Nokia to buy software developer Trolltech for $153M

Nokia Corp. has offered to buy Trolltech ASA, the Oslo-based developer of a widely used application framework, for 844 million Norwegian kroner ($153 million U.S.) in cash. Nokia said it hopes the Trolltech development team will give its own software efforts a boost.

Trolltech develops Qtopia, a framework used to build user interfaces for mobile and embedded devices, and Qt, a cross-platform application development framework.

Espoo, Finland-based Nokia intends to use Trolltech's expertise to improve the interfaces on its S40 mobile phone and S60 smart phone, but Trolltech targets many software systems with its application frameworks.

In 2006, Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled a reference design for a mobile phone running Qtopia Phone Edition on top of a Linux operating system. And the Trolltech team has been working since late 2006 on a version of Qt for Microsoft's Windows CE and Windows Mobile systems.

Qt is also used in a variety of widely used desktop software, including Skype Technologies SA's Internet telephony application, the Google Earth satellite photo browser and Adobe Photoshop Album, now part of the Photoshop Elements image editor, according to Trolltech.

The framework is available under commercial and open-source licenses. It is also used by the developers of KDE, a desktop environment for Linux operating systems. Trolltech recently updated the licensing conditions for Qt, making the code available under the GPLv3 license in addition to the GPLv2 license it already uses.

Nokia has pledged to continue offering commercial and open-source licenses for Qt and other Trolltech products as it continues their future development.

The two companies expect to complete the acquisition in the second quarter. The deal requires the approval of holders of 90% of Trolltech's shares. Nokia said it already has support from the holders of 66% of the shares.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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