MeeGo, Qt, and the new Nokia: developers express their doubts

What are the implications of the new partnership between Nokia and Microsoft for MeeGo, the device-oriented Linux project sponsored by Intel and Nokia? What about Qt, the application framework that unifies Symbian and MeeGo development?

Here is what Nokia says:

Under the new strategy, MeeGo becomes an open-source, mobile operating system project. MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences. Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year.

Nokia is retaining MeeGo but it has moved from centre-stage to become more niche and experimental.

The snag for developers is that there are no known plans to support Qt on Windows phone. According to the letter to developers, Qt developers can look forward to the targeting low-end Symbian devices and at least one solitary MeeGo phone:

Extending the scope of Qt further will be our first MeeGo-related open source device, which we plan to ship later this year. Though our plans for MeeGo have been adapted in light of our planned partnership with Microsoft, that device will be compatible with applications developed within the Qt framework and so give Qt developers a further device to target.

Reaction from developers so far is what you might expect:

By this announcement, I’m afraid you’ve lost many faithful people (developer and consumers) like myself, who’s been a Nokia user ever since I’ve started using cellphones..

and

Wow what can I say, nokia just flat out killed any enthusiasm I had to develop on nokia platforms, I never have and never will use a windows platform. You have just killed QT, even worse killed the most promising OS out there in Meego. Elop is the worst thing that has ever happened Nokia.

and

Weak on execution, you choose to flee. What a sad day in the history of a once proud and strong company.

Nokia could fix this by demanding Qt support for Windows Phone 7.

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  5. Qt will not be ported to Windows Phone 7 says Nokia

3 comments on this post.
  1. Niclas Lindgren:

    Perhaps this will open up a new push for Silverlight on Meego?

    I think this was the only possible combination, there are too many android manufacturers, and Microsoft also needs this push. It is probably better for Microsoft than Nokia, but I think it is good for both.

    The general complaints you have above from developers are more in the religious section so of less concern, the important thing isn’t which platform you use to develop, it is what experience you can give you end user for what cost. I think the Silverlight stack is more powerful, although I have only done embedded QT so I can’t really judge it (except that we moved to flash a couple of years ago).

  2. John:

    As a developer I have to say that Nokia are right to choose Windows.

    The Android platform is fragmented with different carriers supporting (or more likely NOT supporting) different versions. My sons each have an Android and they cannot get OS updates because TMobile or Samsung have blocked them!

    Nokia have a real chance to push their great hardware with an OS that is easy to program for.
    Its all very well Nokia developers whinging about Qt etc. But how many Qt apps have they sold compared to say the average iPhone or Android developer? Tiny amounts.

    Windows7 is an easy programming model, its well supported through tools, books, videos, training courses. You can reuse code from it in traditional desktop apps. I see very little downside for Nokia and I suspect that MS will be very pleased about this.

  3. Nico:

    Well, it seems Qt for Windows Mobile isn’t going to happen:

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/11/nokia-notifies-developers-that-qt-is-out-for-windows-phone-devel/