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The Writing Is On The Wallpaper

27 June 2008 by Das Arunabh

It was exactly five months back that Nokia bought Trolltech. See link

Nokia has done it again. It has gone ahead and taken over Symbian as reported here by Slashdot. The acquisition is valued at about 410 million of yankee money.

So why did Nokia do it? On the surface, it doesn’t seem obvious at all. The Nokia-Symbian nexus has existed since as far back as June 24, 1998, when Symbian Ltd. was formed as a partnership between Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola and Psion, to exploit the convergence between PDAs and mobile phones.

Now, let’s try to dig a little and see what’s really going on here. Trolltech ofcourse has been characterized as “the biggest little company you’ve never heard of”. Ofcourse, Trolltech’s application frameworks power some of the world’s bestest telephony applications including Skype (Skype is powered by Qtopia) and my developer friends may have heard of Qt (which incidentally has a GPLed version).

Symbian OS is a far superior OS to run on a mobile phone even compared to Linux, because of the way a single processor core is able to concurrently execute user applications as well as the signalling stack. Trolltech’s Qtopia is a great platform for developing apps in. But we’re still not seeing the connection and we haven’t understood the implications of what’s happening in Nokia’s mind. The truth is, we think of Nokia as a manufacturer of phones, not as a creator of operating systems and cellphone applications. So why these impulse acquisitions?

There is a one-word answer to these questions. Android. Nokia, as entrenched as it is in the market, is feeling the heat from that “dirty” five-letter word – Google. Google recently announced the first Android phone. See link . So even though WSJ has described the Android phone as a “giant, delayed flustercuck (that’s a politically-correct way of saying something else btw), Google, being Google is going to take the mobile-space and make it into what it has made cyber-space. Accessible and Searchable.

Just to set the record straight. I’m not putting my money on Nokia + Symbian + Trolltech. I’m actually putting my money on the gphone. We’ve had gmail and gtalk. What makes you think you’re not going to end up having gphones and glives? Also, if you’re going to be asking me my opinion on the iPhone, you might as well be asking Mother Teresa (if she were alive) out for a round of golf. It’s just doesn’t make any sense.

- Arunabh Das

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