Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 28, 2008
Until recently, Nokia’s software efforts have been perceived as the opposite of open: closed. Sure, the world’s largest cell-phone maker has participated in open-source mobile Linux projects like remote sensing. It’s also released a few Linux-based phones. But such initiatives have been far and few between.
To write programs for Nokia smartphones, software developers have had to learn ins-and-outs of Nokia-supported Symbian operating system. Nokia has exercised much control over development and charged hefty fees. That’s why so many programmers have flocked to Google’s Android, an open-source operating system for cell phones that was announced last fall. Android is free to use, and poses few restrictions.
But now, Nokia appears to be making more steps toward going open, too. Today, the company announced it acquired Trolltech, known for its open-source mobile software. This is the strongest indication yet that Nokia is embracing open source. And that could have huge implications for the future of mobile Linux and for Android.
With Nokia's support, Trolltech's software may turn into a widely used mobile Linux platform -- and further contribute to fragmentation of the Linux developer community. There are already more than 20 flavors of Linux. Android, the strongest of the bunch, was expected to unite Linux developers. Now, however, some developers that might have jumped onto Android may stick with Nokia.
Clearly, the mobile software battle is heating up.