Nokia is selling the remainder of its Qt app-building business to Digia Oyj for an undisclosed sum. Although Nokia originally developed Qt as a development platform for its homegrown Symbian and MeeGo operating systems, Digia apparently plans to adapt the software for use on Google Android, Apple’s iOS and the upcoming Windows 8.
Digia already owns the Qt Commercial licensing business, which it purchased from Nokia in March 2011. As part of this acquisition of all Qt assets, some 125 employees will apparently transfer from Nokia to Digia. Terms of the deal went undisclosed.
“Nokia is proud of the contributions we’ve made to Qt over the past four years,” Sebastian Nystrom, head of Nokia Strategy, wrote in an Aug. 9 statement. “Digia’s plans to acquire Qt mean that it can continue as a successful open source project and also offer continuing employment for many people in the community.”
Digia plans on investing in Qt with an eye toward making it the preeminent cross-platform development framework, and available as both an open-source and commercial license. The organization claims Qt is in use by more than 450,000 developers and thousands of companies.
In a bid to reverse its rapidly eroding market-share, Nokia recently abandoned Symbian and MeeGo in favor of Windows Phone, which comes with its own development platform for apps. Windows Phone trails both Google Android and iOS, which dominate the mobile market; research firm Strategy Analytics recently estimated that Microsoft’s platform would ultimately seize 4 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in 2012—a 1-percent rise from 2011.
“Microsoft is making a determined push to crack the United States because it is the most valuable and influential smartphone market in the world,” Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics, wrote in a July statement accompanying that prediction. “To grow further, we believe future versions of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform will need to dramatically improve support for advanced technologies” such as multi-core chipsets.
Microsoft needs to expand the number of Windows Phone apps, he added, in addition to working with partners to introduce new devices to the marketplace.
A big part of that Windows Phone push in the U.S. involves Nokia, which poured millions into a marketing campaign earlier this year based on its high-end Lumia smartphones. For both Nokia and Microsoft, one of the keys to Windows Phone’s eventual success could reside on their ability to promote the platform to third-party developers as ideal for apps and cloud services.