Thoughts about Nokia, Microsoft and Qt

This is yet another blog post about the announcement of Nokia and Microsoft. I felt, I want to share my thoughts about it, but  first let’s put here a nice picture which tells more than 1000 words.

The future of Nokia? Microkia?

Mr Elop’s Memo

Before the official announcement of Nokia and Microsoft collaboration, someone leaked Mr. Elop’s memo and it gained pretty much publicity. When I read the memo, I was surprised, how much I shared the same opinions with Mr. Elop. I’ve seen how things work internally in Nokia and I truly believe that it’s time for doing some serious reorganizations inside Nokia. Actually it should have been happened years ago.

But I can’t emphasize too much that I  disagree with Mr. Elop how things ended up. Actually I’m not sure who gets most out of this deal, because Nokia stock value dropped pretty much after the announcement.

The Future of Qt

It was about 10 years ago when started to use Qt. Back then I was in a research project at the university where we used PyQt for developing UI for our application. After that, I did small Qt projects at home, but over 5 years ago, I started to use Qt at work and I haven’t stopped using it since. Before Nokia acquired Trolltech I was in industrial side projects where we used Qt e.g. on PowerPC and Arm based linux platforms. We even adopted Qt Graphics View pretty much when it was introduced.

In the early days (in my Qt career) Trolltech was doing pretty good business with Qt. At least this is my understanding and they had and probably still have clients from many application areas such as military, industrial, cargo, IVI, set-top-box manufacturers, mobile etc… Back then most of the clients were using commercial Qt version so money came in from the paying clients.

Now it’s interesting to see how things evolve in Qt side after these breaking news. Qt is not going to be “The Developer API” for Nokia smartphones, instead they provide Microsoft tools for that. Qt will continue its existence as a developer API on Symbian and MeeGo side, but still I think this might have pretty big impact in Norway and other locations where Qt is being developed.

The sad thing here is that Trolls have been working hard to improve Qt performance, introducing cool technologies like Qt Quick/QML and fixing issues caused by the huge amount of legacy code originated from desktop side. Now I’m afraid, that has Nokia actually killed this such a great technology called Qt?

To be honest, I believe that this Nokia strategy change might make Nokia to lose some of its greatest talents.

The Future of MeeGo

Good thing about MeeGo is that it’s open. This means that if Nokia decides to let it be i.e. stop developing it any further, it can continue to live its own life. MeeGo is NOT just a handset OS, it’s much more. As we have already seen it has been adopted by different companies which are making set-top-boxes, tablets (WeTab), mobile phones, etc. Intel might still have own interests to develop MeeGo for Netbooks and for Medfield based mobile phones. We should also remember that we might see some activity on IVI side in the future too.

The one good thing is that Mr. Elop said was that Nokia will release MeeGo based device during this year. I’m not sure is it a phone or a tablet or both, but let’s see what happens.

Nokia & Microsoft

I’m eager to see how fast Nokia can release the first Nokia Windows phone. At least this decision doesn’t make Nokia to release their long-waited iPhone killer any faster. I might also be wrong and they will release the phone at the MWC next week. But to be honest (again), I’m not sure if they are even able to kill iPhone and Android anymore.

Apple has their own Apple fanatics who would buy a brick if it has Apple logo on it. I’m not saying that Apple does bad products, in fact, I think iPhone is a great phone. What I mean is that you can’t make those people to buy Nokia products easily. Google/Android then again gains more users from cheaper and cheaper smartphones. I’m not sure how Nokia will fit in this picture anymore? At least the Nokia Windows phone must be really good and it must attract consumers in the US.

One question that many people have asked since the Paul Allen’s visit to Helsinki last summer was that will Nokia and Microsoft put things together at some point? Now they have done that and even more interested question is that will Nokia be acquired by Microsoft in few years or even sooner? At least you can buy Nokia shares at low price now.

Btw, Stephen Elop is the 7th biggest non-institutional owner of Microsoft stock. Check this link. You can make your own conclusions of that.

What about the developers?

So far Nokia has failed to satisfy 3rd party developers for several times. Here are few examples:

  • I have never heard any positive comments about Symbian developer experience. The one positive comment related on Symbian development was: “Symbian is so difficult platform to learn that you can make a lot of money by providing training courses for developers”.
  • Each time a new Maemo based device has been released, the developer API has changed so much that you were forced to re-write everything or at least work pretty hard to port your existing Maemo app to the latest platform.
  • When Nokia announced that Qt will be the developer API for Maemo 6, many old GTK developers walked away from Maemo community and also some of the Nokia internals left.
  • Qt would have been a great developer API for 3rd party developers, but now that the windows will be Nokia’s next OS and M$ Tools will be used for development, I won’t be developing anything for that platform.

The one wise thing Nokia decided to do some time ago was to bring Qt to Symbian platform. That was then and now Symbian will die soon. If an OS dies, it naturally makes many developers to think other options even before the OS death – who wants to develop apps for a dying platform?

Windows is not an option for me! I don’t have Windows at home and I haven’t used it at work either for many years. Now Nokia has lost at least one developer more who could have been developing apps for their smartphones in the future. I have already seen Nokia internals to updating their CV:s and starting to seek new jobs related on Linux and open source.

Conclusions

I hope all the best for Nokia. It has been a really important company for Finnish economy for several decades. Even though Mr. Elop tries to convince us that Nokia will stay in Finland, for some reason, he doesn’t convince me. This is just my speculation so don’t take it too seriously, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to interpret the signs.

I really hope that Nokia is able to launch a Windows based flagship device at some point and sell it a lot. I hope there are enough Windows oriented developers who want to develop apps for Nokia’s future smartphones, but don’t count me in. I think there are other more interested in options for that such as Android, IOS and WebOS.

Of course I will always be a Qt developer, because I truly believe that it can still continue its existence as a great cross platform toolkit.

Thanks for reading my blog.


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5 Responses to “Thoughts about Nokia, Microsoft and Qt”

  1. chappo says:

    Zchydem, don’t want to make your day even worse, but if this isn’t someone’s idea of a sick joke – http://www.msqt.org/ – then Microsoft have already branded your favorite Qt as if it were a Microsoft product!

    If it’s true, what a perfect way to undermine all the fine people who dedicate their lives to FOSS software. I’ll expect you and your associates would be wanting a very quick and clean break from such nonsense by forking Qt to bring it back in the open.

    For me, I’ve not used Qt, or even KDE, because the license of Qt was always tainted (I know it’s GPL’d now, but rather late).

    This could serve as a fine lesson to us all about taking candy from big corporations…

    • zchydem says:

      @chappo Yes, http://www.msqt.org is a sick joke:) I guess we will hear more news from Nokia in next few days and weeks and especially what kind of model they will use for Qt. I believe this came as a surprise for most of the Nokians and it would be a stupid decision to forget Qt. There is still room for Qt business, even though it’s not on a mobile/handset side.

      As you said, now it’s even possible to fork Qt and start to develop it, but before starting that kind of huge project, let’s see what kind of announcements we’ll here from Nokia side.

      When it comes to the big corporations, I haven’t completely lost my faith to them. Afaik e.g IBM works in an open way with linux and other open source projects and have done this for several years.

  2. chenchao says:

    hi,zchydem
    We were so disappointed about this issue, but we will still love Qt, and keep working on it. our company are using Qt as it’s first choices to develop our STB box.

    from china

    • zchydem says:

      @chenchao Good to hear that! As you may also have heard from MWC that Intel is still putting quite a lot of effort into MeeGo and naturally Qt plays a significant role there.

  3. tinachan says:

    @zchydem I agree with you and I am excited about MeeGo device launch. I love Qt and I think Nokia is not dumping it as it has around 75 million symbian devices with Qt framework in market and going to launch 150 million more so it’s pretty much clear that Qt’s future is good. Let’s take it as Nokia added a new OS to its Os family and it’s going to be an added advantage for all the developers to not only create and sell the symbian Qt apps in its store but also to create and sell for windows as well. :)

    Also take a look at what Rich Green of Nokia has to say about future of symbian, Qt, MeeGo: http://conversations.nokia.com/2011/02/16/the-future-for-qt-meego-and-symbian-cto-rich-green-explains/

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