August 9, 2012

Digia Acquires Qt from Nokia, Has plans To Go Cross-Platform

Digia announced it was acquiring Qt's business, software, and staff from Nokia today. Over a year ago Digia had already purchased Nokia's commercial Qt business.

If you are unsure of what exactly Qt (pronounced cute-tee) is, OpenSUSE's Jos Poortvliet sums it up nicely in a comment on this story from The Verge:

"for anyone wondering what Qt is - it's a cross-platform toolkit to develop applications with. If you use it properly your app will run on pretty much any platform, from win/mac/linux to android/ios/Windows Mobile/Symbian etc.

Commercially, Qt is used a lot in the automobile industry, movie industry and for medical appliances. It's more known as the toolkit behind the biggest Linux desktop project KDE and for its use in mobile phone platforms like MeeGo and Symbian.

Technically it's probably the most complete and advanced set of libraries for UI development. Especially the up-and-coming QML/Qt Quick tech puts Qt ahead of pretty much all [competition]."

In Nokia's words, this move allows Qt to "continue as a successful open source project".

According to ZDNet "financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Reuters reports that analysts pegged the figure at a "fraction" of the $150 million Nokia paid for the software in 2008."

One interesting aspect of the announcement was where Digia has stated that they intend to move Qt rapidly to other platforms, such as Android, iOS, and Window 8 devices. I'm not a programmer, but this would seem to be good news for the KDE community for a number of obvious reasons:

  • The future of Qt is no longer in limbo
  • Qt has a solid financial backing
  • Digia's desire to move Qt easily across various platforms would seem to be an extreme benefit to KDE as it looks to move to tablets, phones, and mobile devices in general
  • There is already a KDE on Windows project that this would seem to potentially benefit (again, I'm no programmer so this is all speculation)
So while we wait and see exactly how this affects the KDE and subsequent Kubuntu releases, overall this is pretty exciting news to be sure. And not only a win for KDE, but for open source in general.

Goodbye Nokia, hello Digia!

Other references: Wikipedia, Qt Developer Network