Nokia acquires Trolltech: Will any open-source companies be left to change the world?

As the proprietary world continues to devour the open-source world, one has to wonder if anyone will be left to shake up the old world.

Another day and $150 million later, another open-source company has vanished into the bowels of the proprietary world, as Nokia on Monday announced its intention to buy open-source mobile company Trolltech. Tim O'Reilly may have been right: it may well be that most of the open-source commercial world is going to dissipate into the proprietary ether.

Who will change the world if the old world devours the new world?

For Nokia, the deal opens up the mobile landscape further:

The acquisition of Trolltech will enable Nokia to accelerate its cross-platform software strategy for mobile devices and desktop applications, and develop its Internet services business.

With Trolltech, Nokia and third-party developers will be able to develop applications that work in the Internet, across Nokia's device portfolio and on PCs. Nokia's software strategy for devices is based on cross-platform development environments, layers of software that run across operating systems, enabling the development of applications across the Nokia device range. Examples of current cross-platform layers are Web runtime, Flash, Java, and Open C.

Interesting days. Will there be any open-source companies left to acquire in 2008? Who will drive forward the changes to the software world if the old world keeps devouring the new?

Having said that, at the valuation for which Nokia picked up Trolltech, perhaps not many will be tempted to sell out. On this note, I'm trying to figure out what was sold. Trolltech's company valuation is $150 million (823 million Norweigan kroner) according to public records. Nokia is buying 66 percent of Trolltech for $150 million. This would give Nokia control of Trolltech, but I'm trying to figure out exactly what valuation this places on Trolltech.

Someone who is better at math or has more information, please help.

Regardless, it's interesting to note that Trolltech's valuation has roughly been cut in half over the past year, which makes this an opportune time for Nokia to buy.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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