Nokia has sold part of the software that helped create apps for its Symbian and MeeGo operating systems, in a move to focus resources on its new relationship with Microsoft.
The Espoo, Finland-based company recently sold the business part of Qt, pronounced “cute,” which deals with commercial software licenses and services. Developers had previously used Qt to create apps for its platforms. Stephen Elop, Nokia’s chief executive, said the software would “potentially confuse the developers and confuse the consumers and create an environment where Windows Phone moves slower than the competition.”
The move to drop Qt is one of Nokia’s first concrete steps to capitalize on its strategic alliance with Microsoft last month. By shedding old tools, it intends to get the Windows Phone platform up-and-running as quickly as possible on its phones. It also has begun talks with its Finnish employees over the company’s new software strategy, which will reorganize the ranks as it implements Microsoft’s software on Nokia phones.
Nokia’s announcement to use Windows to build its next-generation smartphones sent shockwaves through the industry. Until now, Nokia has developed its own phone operating systems, including the long-running Symbian and MeeGo platforms, which the company was developing in partnership with Intel.
Those mobile operating systems, which Qt was intended to support, failed to keep pace with competition from rivals Apple, Research in Motion, and a host of phone makers using Google’s Android platform. Nokia was marginalized in the smartphone market, especially in the U.S.
Microsoft also has high hopes for the new partnership. After years of stagnation, it refreshed its smartphone OS with the release of Windows Phone in October, which subsequently failed to make inroads against fierce competition despite generally warm reviews.
The plan is for these two smartphone underdogs to fill in each other’s weaknesses: Nokia needs viable software, and Microsoft needs a handset partner than can deliver standout hardware. How this marriage works out will determine both companies’ future in the smartphone market for some time to come.
Nokia acquired the Qt platform in 2008 for $153 million from a small Norwegian company called Trolltech. The company that acquired the licensing and services aspect is called Digia, and it will continue to support the existing 3,500 clients.