Nokia currently has three operating systems: S40, Symbian and Maemo. I know S30 still exists for ultra low end fones, but forget about that for a second. If you’re a developer looking at creating a native application, you’re going to have to write three different applications. Nokia wants to make your life easier, and the first step at inching towards that goal was purchasing Trolltech in January 2008. Trolltech makes a runtime called Qt. WTF is a runtime? Take Adobe Flash for example. That is a runtime that runs as a plugin in web browsers. It doesn’t matter if you use Windows, Mac or Linux on your computer, or if you use Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari as your web browser, Adobe Flash content will look the same across all platforms. Qt is the same thing, but the one thing that separates it from Adobe’s Flash, Microsoft’s Silverlight and everything else is the fact that it’s open source.
Nokia is going to be slapping a Qt layer on top of all their operating systems so that developers in the future will hopefully have to write only one version of their application, and then it will run across multiple devices. The ultimate goal here is that Qt applications will run on not only Nokia devices, but Windows Mobile, Google Android, and other mobile operating systems. Below is a video of Qt 4.6 running on a Nokia N900. It’s a beta release, with final code expected to ship some time in Q1 next year.
Nokia’s vision will be very difficult to achieve, and frankly I’ve already decided that the horse I’m going to bet on is the open web (HTML5, CSS, JS) rather than than a runtime that has to be ported across multiple platforms, but hey, good luck Nokia! You’re going to need it.