A post on the Qt Project Listserv has confirmed that the Qt Australia office will be shut down by Nokia on August 31st, with current staff being given the option of continuing in their current positions within the wider project or stepping down as seen fit. With the closure of the office, this continues Nokia’s moves to complete reliance on Windows Phone for its entry-level, mid-range and high-end smartphones with no other alternative in place should the initiative continue to struggle.
We have received word that the Brisbane Australia office, consisting of the teams working on Qt3D, QtDeclarative, QtMultimedia, QtSensors, QtLocation and QtSystems modules, as well as the CI/QA team for Qt, will be shut down. Our last day is August 31.
The individual developers still retain their status within the Qt Project. Whether they choose to remain working on Qt is up to them. Personally, I will continue is possible because I still have plans/research I want to do.
Except for the CI hardware. which still has employment in the EU.
so… anyone hiring?
This places the future of the Qt Project on mobile in serious doubt as key components of the framework were developed in the Australian office as a result of Nokia’s landmark purchase of Trolltech in 2008 which gave rise to the integration of Qt at all levels of the company at the time, which included Series 60v5, Maemo and further progressed into S^3 and MeeGo before being halted at the commercial level with the release of the N9, which runs MeeGo Harmattan and relies heavily on a Qt abstraction layer for software and user interface components.
The goal for the Qt purchase when initially complete in 2008 was to give Nokia a solid framework to transition away from the quickly aging Symbian codebase and move to a more flexible and powerful development framework that would have seen it compete directly with Apple’s iPhone. While the Qt framework has its roots in desktop Linux and was heavily slanted towards that direction at the time of Nokia’s Trolltech purchase, Nokia invested very heavily in mobile development with the goal of deploying a universal, open source codebase that would have been ported across devices with little issue.
Unfortunately, with Nokia’s famous management issues and the rise of Android catching the manufacturer off guard along with the erosion of its low-end profit center, the Qt Project was seemingly ignored as Nokia splintered its Linux projects internally in order to find its magic bullet, first with Maemo being merged with Intel’s Moblin to create MeeGo, then later creating Harmattan for the N9 and finally developing Meltemi for the low-end before ending all of the projects in some fashion within the past year and a half.
With Stephen Elop taking the helm last year and moving Nokia to Windows Phone, it seemed for a time that Qt was indeed dead, but not before he threw the project a possible lifeline with Meltemi. As Elop banned Qt on Windows Phone, Meltemi was subsequently developed in order to give the Qt Office a development target for low-end Linux phones outside of the integration with Symbian Anna and Belle, an integration process that was anything but smooth if previous developer comments are to be taken into account, with many Symbian developers professing discontent with the way Symbian handles the Qt framework for software development purposes outside of select components.
Now with the silent internal death of Meltemi and the closure of the Qt Australia office at the end of the month, Nokia is also said to be looking for potential buyers for the whole of its Qt assets, assets which may prove to be more valuable than even the company itself realizes, as the framework is still in use outside of mobile devices. Adding Nokia’s massive investments in the framework over the past four years since the 2008 purchase may give the wider Linux community more incentive to step up and see to it that Qt is purchased by either Intel or another company with heavy Linux interests, such as Jolla or the Linux Foundation.
To add to the possibility of Nokia selling off Qt, an anonymous email making the rounds through listservs claims that Nokia SVP of Qt Sebastian Nystrom has been given explicit orders to sell Qt while internal development is wound down throughout the month. Although Nokia plans to shut down the office and is internally exploring all options for Qt, the company still plans to go ahead with its last milestone release in Qt 5.0, though when that will happen is anyone’s guess.
I wasn’t going to mention this but since the topic has come up…
A source I consider reliable has whispered in my ear that in the aftermath of Nokia recently shooting Meltemi dead*, Sebastian Nyström (the Nokia Senior VP in charge of Qt) has been given explicit direction to sell-off the Qt asset.
Nokia’s great experiment in frameworks (mobile and otherwise) is over.
* After having previously shot Symbian and Maemo/MeeGo dead