Nokia acquires browser firm Novarra

Robert Clark
29 Mar 2010

In its latest attempt to gain ground in the mobile internet wars, Nokia has acquired US browser firm Novarra.

It will acquire 100% of the privately-held Chicago-based firm, one of the first companies to develop a handset browser, Nokia announced Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Novarra's mobile browser and services platform will be used by Nokia to deliver enhanced internet experiences on Nokia mobile devices,” the handset firm said.

Niklas Savander, the head of Nokia services, said Novarra would be deployed on Nokia's mid-range Series 40 platform, not its top-end Series 60 OS.

Novarra has a long history as a browser developer, supplying one of the first ever to the Palm PDA. The acquisition gives Nokia access to Novarra’s broad base of tier 1 operators, including Hutchison Three, Verizon Wireless and Telecom Italia, according to the Novarra website.

At least one observer speculated that Norway-based Opera might have been a better acquisition. The company, listed on the Oslo stock exchange, had 46 million unique users of its mobile browser in Q4 2009, according to a filing.

Nokia said a new service using the Novarra platform would be available later this year.

Following the acquisition, which is expected to close in the second quarter, Novarra will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nokia. It has 100 employees.

Research firm Gartner predicts that 85% of handsets shipped by 2011 will contain some kind of web browser.

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