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Nokia sells Qt

Digia, the software firm that acquired the commercial branch of the Qt open source platform from Nokia in March 2011, has agreed to acquire the company outright. The Finnish firm will take on some 125 Nokia staff, and aims to quickly port the platform to Android, iOS and Windows 8.

The sale means there is now no going back for Nokia in terms of its operating systems. It must continue working with Microsoft on Windows Phone, having now shed all other development routes (including Symbian and MeeGo). The vendor, perhaps, has the option to produce Android devices, but given it's just ditched its own open-source software development arm, that seems unlikely.

Nokia is also likely to be taking a hefty hit on the sale price. No details were disclosed in the official announcement, but analysts told the UK's Guardian newspaper Digia is likely to pay far less than the $150 million Nokia bought the firm for in 2008 (when it acquired Trolltech). The timing of closing the deal also wasn't discussed, though Digia hints it will happen quickly by stating the software business will add to its 2012 revenues.

To my mind, this seems to leave Nokia perilously close to becoming an ODM rather than the OEM it has been through its lifetime as a phone maker. If it's not handling any software development, it is thus reliant solely on Microsoft for mobile phone platforms and access to developers.

The latter may be the crucial loss in this sale. Around 450,000 developers are currently working on Qt, so basically Nokia has just lost nearly half a million much-needed developers.