Digia buys Qt app framework from Nokia

The Finnish company plans to port the application framework to Android, iOS, and Windows 8

Digia has acquired the Qt framework from Nokia, giving it full control over the application framework, and now plans to expand support to more platforms, it said on Thursday.

Digia, based in Finland, started taking over Qt in March 2011 when it purchased Nokia's Qt commercial licensing and services business. The latest deal means Digia is responsible for all Qt activities including product development, as well as the commercial and open source licensing, the company said.

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Qt is a cross-platform application and user interface framework designed to let developers write and deploy applications across desktop, mobile and embedded operating systems without rewriting source code.

One of Digia's first priorities will be to allow Qt-based applications to run on Android, iOS and Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 platform. The goal is to provide support for Android and iOS during the first half of 2013, a spokesman said via email.

Today Qt can be used to create applications for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Symbian.

Digia will decide whether to also port the framework to Windows Phone 8 in the coming months, according to the spokesman.

As devices based on Android and iOS have become so popular, there is now a growing need to develop applications for multiple platforms at the same time. That has in turn made cross-platform tools more attractive, as they promise to cut development costs.

By expanding Qt to more operating systems Digia hopes to turn the framework into a credible option in the increasingly crowded cross-platform mobile development space, where it will have to compete with the likes of Appcelerant, Adobe's PhoneGap, Sencha, Unity and Xamarin.

What will set Digia apart from the competition is the ability to develop native applications not only for mobile devices, but also for desktops and embedded systems, it maintains.

Digia will also be pushing to deliver Qt 5 on time. The final release of the new version of the framework is expected to arrive in September, according to the Qt project website.

No financial details of the deal were announced, but as part of the transaction, a maximum of 125 people will transfer from Nokia will to Digia. Most of them are based in Oslo and Berlin Digia said.

Since Digia acquired Nokia's Qt Commercial licensing, the business has grown substantially and Digia expects it be profitable in 2012.

Nokia acquired the Qt framework when it bought Norwegian company Trolltech in 2008.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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