15 February, 2011

Nokia does the right thing!

For those who've had it with the Nokia discussions - further down I have some positive news too...

So the rumors turned out to be true. Stephan Elop, the new Nokia CEO (and ex Microsoft employee), has decided the future of Nokia is to work with Microsoft. It will be possible to decrease investments in R&D and Nokia won't have to build it's own platform nor focus on services anymore. Instead it can focus on becoming a phone hardware manufacturer, a strategy which will ensure high margins!

Sarcasm aside, it seems to me that Nokia (or at least its CEO) has realized it has had its best time in the nineties and it is over. Better to show good profitability for the next 4-6 years than invest in the future. Within 2-3 years Stephan will leave a company which is "going great" (short-term financially speaking) and receive a big bonus. Usual business of the type which brought us the credit crisis.

How about us?

So what does this mean for Free Software? Hard to say yet but I think it's a fair bet that development on MeeGo won't increase due to these choices. Bad for the linux kernel, infrastructure like Telepathy, Gstreamer and top-level stuff like Qt. Qt will probably not be hurt that much, it is the platform of choice for Symbian for at least the next few years. And if they change their mind Nokia (or otherwise some volunteers, can't stop them can you?) will port Qt to WP7 - write one app, run on MeeGo, Symbian AND WP7. With the open governance model of Qt & the LGPL license, the decreased investments could be compensated by community efforts. Still, I feel sorry for those who might get fired over this. And personally, I was looking for a really open mobile platform - my N900 is pretty awesome and though I'll buy the N9 it's sad it won't have a decent successor.

Meanwhile, stock has gone down some 15% on Nokia, MS' stock went down, Apple and Google went up. Hmmmm, what does the stock market think... Anyhow. I guess more than enough has been written and said about it, let's just wait and see what happens next...

Good News - twice!

In far more positive news, my own employer (that would be Novell) has helped the stability of the UK financial system by migrating the London Stock Exchange from a Microsoft .NET based solution to a SUSE Linux Enterprise stack. The new trading system went live last week. The earlier Windows and .NET based software actually managed to get the CEO of the LSE fired after an 8 hour outage (any idea how much money that costs?). Their new CEO, slightly smarter than Elop if I might say so, decided to go for Linux. This has led to better performance and stability - no surprise. SUSE proves to be about 15 times faster than the MS/.Net system which couldn't get network round trips below 2 milliseconds despite big investments in code and hardware improvements. Meanwhile SUSE comes in at about 126 microseconds! I don't expect any 8-hour outages or fired CEO's, so congrats to everyone involved!

And while at it, let me also mention an interview with my colleague Kerry Kim. Subject was IBM's supercomputer 'Watson' which took on a human in the TV show 'Jeopardy'. Watson runs SUSE Linux - as do, Kerry mentioned, 6 out of the top-10 supercomputers in the world. Check a video of Watson out here (or embedded above).