This is a summary of key open-source related events of Nokia in past five years.
In 2005 Nokia launched Nokia 770 internet tablet, being the first device to ship Maemo. Maemo then featured GTK derived user interface and closed-source Opera web browser.
It was quickly followed by Nokia N800 and Nokia N810 in 2007 which included Mozilla Fennec, an Firefox derived web browser optimized for mobile devices. In the May of 2009 Mozilla and Nokia arranged a two day hacking fest to enable further collaboration between Mozilla and Maemo, to have better support for Mozilla’s Fennec in Maemo.
In the beginning of 2008 Nokia acquired Qt of Norwegian company Trolltech. Qt is cross-platform application and UI framework used by many open-source projects. KDE, one of the main desktop environments used on GNU/Linux workstations relies on Qt libraries. After acquisition Nokia became patron of KDE being one of the supporters of KDE development.
In 2008 Nokia also aquired Symbian and made it open-source. In addition they started porting Qt to Symbian making Symbian platform supporting Qt based applications.
In October of 2009 Nokia officially released Nokia N900. The Maemo for N900 featured native support for Qt applications and included some closed-source components like GPS and GSM kernel modules. In the February of 2010 Nokia and Intel announced plans to merge Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo to become MeeGo.
It seemed Nokia had embraced open-source until 21. September of 2010 when they announced that Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo would step down as the CEO of Nokia to be replaced by Stephen Elop. What is worth mentioning is that Elop had worked as the head of Microsoft’s business division between 2008 and 2010.
Just few months before Nokia’s planned releasing of the first MeeGo device, Ari Jaaksi the Nokia’s MeeGo device chief quits for “personal reasons”. Few months later on 11. February of 2011 Nokia announced their strategy for future putting emphasis on Windows Phone 7 platform. That day Nokia lost 5 billion USD (15%) of their market cap.
Microsoft-centric strategy involves moving Nokia Ovi store to Microsoft Marketplace and Nokia Maps to Microsoft’s Bing. Most importantly Microsoft is supposed to provide all developer tools to Nokia which might mean that they will drop Qt support altogether. KDE has fortunately signed an agreement which allows them to release Qt under license of their choice if that should happen.
So what is the bottom line? Symbian, while having the majority of market share, was dying platform and they had to find something to fight against Android and iPhone. Having Qt on top of Symbian and Maemo/MeeGo for future devices, had a lot potential to do that. Yet from having the support of open-source community, they ended up with Microsoft and losing even more of their market value.