So Nokia buys Trolltech. What’s in it for me?
Trolltech develops Qt, the cross-platform development framework that Google Earth is built upon, so that it’s easy to come out simultaneous versions in Windows, Linux and Mac. As the Nokia press release makes clear,
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.
Let others speculate whether this is a response to the Google’s upcoming Android mobile platform — as far as I am concerned, Nokia believes it is in the business of making computers that just happen to be very small (hence its slogan for the N series, “It’s what computers have become”.) The sooner near full-fledged versions of your desktop programs can make it to a Nokia S60 type phone, the sooner you might use it as a desktop alternative….
So when does Google Earth make it to a Nokia S60 near you? The major challenge: Graphics chips eat batteries for breakfast, and current mobile phone CPUs are too puny to do software emulation for 3D. Another few years, perhaps?
Meanwhile, however, I’m beginning to suspect that on a mobile phone, plain-vanilla maps are the obvious killer apps, simply because of the overhead required to render virtual globes on to such a small device.