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App factory caught by new owner Digia

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Nokia's back-room clear out continues with the Qt platform being sold to Finnish firm Digia Oyj for an undisclosed sum. As part of the deal 125 engineers will swap employers.

Digia was a licensee of Qt, distributing commercial and freeware versions of the platform and development tools, but now it owns the whole shebang.

Qt was created by Trolltech more than 15 years ago, and is a cross-platform framework for building software. It supports C++ and other languages, and can be used to cross-compile graphical (and command-line) applications to Windows, Mac and various flavours of Unix as well as Symbian and MeeGo - which is why Nokia bought Trolltech back in 2008 for a shade under a hundred million quid.

But Nokia is focused entirely on Windows Phone now, so has been shuttering its Qt development efforts around the world and has now divested itself of the technology entirely.

Not that Qt will die - Digia claims there are almost half a million Qt developers out there. The platform is used for some high-profile applications including the VLC's Videolan Media Player, Google Earth and Mathematica. Digia is promising support for Android and iOS as well as continued support for embedded platforms including QNX (the foundation for the latest RIM OS) and VxWorks (which is doing such sterling work on Mars at the moment).

The support sites for the Qt Project will also transfer to Digia, as will the Qt Project Foundation, but Digia isn't planning any changes and even reckons the transition won't affect the launch of Qt 5 which is due later this month.

With all its eggs in one Microsoft-branded basket Nokia might not be interested in cross-platform development any more, but there are plenty of people who are. Nokia ploughed a lot of money into improving Qt, so it will be interesting to see how the framework develops without it. ®

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