More downsizing and rationalizing from troubled handset maker Nokia. Today, Finnish software company Digia, which bought the Qt commercial licensing operation from Nokia a year ago, announced that it would buy the remainder of Nokia’s Qt business. Qt is an open source development platform that Digia plans to “quickly enable” to be used in Android, iOS and Windows 8 environments. The deal includes the transfer of software, technologies and 125 employees in Oslo, Norway and Berlin, Germany.
The companies are not yet revealing a price at this stage, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. But a report at Reuters notes that it is just a “fraction” of the $150 million that Nokia paid in 2008 for Trolltech, the open source platform where Qt originated. The Qt platform has been used by some 450,000 developers to date, mainly to develop software with a graphical interface. Digia says it is used across 70 industries in addition to mobile, including automotive, medical, and defense.
Nokia and Digia have actually been working together on Qt since 2011, when Digia acquired the Qt commercial licensing and professional services business from Nokia. That division is called Qt Commercial.
Why the offload, exactly? Nokia is making huge cost cuts as it continues to restructure its business — during its Q2 earnings the company noted that restructuring charges for the next two years will be in the region of €1.9 billion ($2.35 billion), so there is that. But also, the company has made Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform the basis of its smartphone strategy, and that has pulled it away from development platforms like Qt.
At the time, Nokia had said it would continue to support Qt’s licensing activities for at least a year during transition, and that’s what it has done. However, as more belt tightening has taken place at Nokia, it seems that it has reversed course on another part of its strategy. In March 2011 Nokia noted: “We want to emphasize our long-term commitment to Qt. Nokia will drive Qt developments in support of our business needs and our investments in community building, marketing and R&D will continue to benefit all members of the Qt community.”
Today’s news more or less removes Nokia from the Qt equation, however.
Looking ahead, Digia says that it will be investing in R&D for Qt “expanding its reach on many more platforms than ever before” and use it for its own international expansion. Digia notes that the commercial operation it bought over a year ago has “grown substantially” and will have a positive impact on 2012 revenues.
Perhaps most importantly, Digia will continue to keep Qt open source while developing the commercial part of the business and is trying to reach out to developers to do that. Open source activities will be centered around this site; commercial activities here.
“Now is a good time for everyone to revisit their perception of Qt. Digia’s targeted R&D investments will bring back focus on Qt’s desktop and embedded platform support, while widening the support for mobile operating systems,” said Tommi Laitinen, SVP, International Products, Digia, in a statement.