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Finding a partner for the Cute(Qt) one - A brief history of Qt and its future

Sriram V Iyer
29th Mar 2011
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While mortal geeks and nerds may find it difficult to find partners for various reasons, cute ones usually have the problem of plenty.

I usually like to start my articles with such statements of profound truth, which are usually irrelevant to the content of the article. However, this time, there is a deep link.

For the uninitiated (who shouldn’t be reading this entry anyway), Qt (popularly pronounced ‘cute’) is a cross-platform toolkit that has been helping developers to create portable programs across a variety of platforms including MS Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and some mobile platforms. Qt is a very popular toolkit despite the odd competition from other open source competition like GTK+ – Recently Adobe Flash is also FLEXing its muscles as a competent cross-platform UX technology (if you can pardon my pun on Flex)

Qt was developed by a Trolltech – Nokia, in their various attempts to create a smart smartphone strategy, acquired Trolltech, thus bringing Qt to the folds of Symbian, Nokia’s predominant OS.

Nokia now unleashed the power of Qt to develop apps for Symbian - S40, S60 series, Symbian^3, Symbian^4 etc. and also their own Linux based platform Maemo. (Who comes up with these names?)

With a good part of smartphone OEMs dumping Symbian and rushing to Android, Maemo did not find a lot of takers. However, Intel, who is trying hard to get a decent foothold in the smartphone/tablet market (which will surely overtake the number of PCs) partnered with Moblin platform (sounds close to Mobile Linux).

Seeing Android taking a lot of traction, the two super powers Nokia and Intel decided to join together to create a MeeGo Platform combining both their Linux development programs Maemo and Moblin respectively.

Now, Nokia brought in the power of Qt to develop apps for MeeGo. Needless to say MeeGo developers were overjoyed. When we thought Qt can now settle down with two partners MeeGo and Symbian, esp. with Nokia touting Qt as the ideal platform for development across platforms, the unthinkable happened!

Nokia joined hands with Microsoft, the original ally of Intel and dumped all programs (well almost) including its MeeGo program with Intel. This story has enough elements of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

And in an announcement that would be a major blow to Qt developers, Nokia announced that Qt cannot be used to develop apps for WinMo. With Symbian, and Maemo closed, and Nokia exiting MeeGo, where does that leave Qt? (Did I hear someone say ‘Nowhere’?) - So, to justify the title of this article, Qt currently does not have a partner.

But, Nokia may not give up its prized possession so easily – But I think Intel, which has huge stakes in the MeeGo platform is the best suitor for the Qt platform – Asking me reasons for my conclusion is like asking Rakhi Sawant reasons for choosing her groom in her ‘Swayamwar’ – Even then, some of the reasons that I could think of:

1.     Intel has its skin in the game. MeeGo requires a good development platform and Qt already supports MeeGo

2.     Intel has the muscle to support Qt as a preferred development platform for Desktops/Laptops and Mobile devices as it has stakes in both (Nokia on the other hand did not have much incentive for Desktop platforms)

But we’ll have to wait for the future with bated breath to see how the drama unfolds. And for sure, lot of developers are watching… (suspense music on the crescendo)

Guest Column by Sriram V Iyer, Co- Founder, United Mobile Apps, read his story here

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