Qt’s future for Nokia: Bringing apps to the next billion. Qt for S40?

| June 21, 2011 | 37 Replies

Amidst the excitement over the Nokia N9, one thing overlooked was the possibility of Qt on S40 – or the Next Billion. Whilst never explicitly mentioned as such, it suggests that might be the way forward for Qt and S40.

Over at the Qt Blog they have a post about Qt being a core component to the app strategy of the next billion.

http://blog.qt.nokia.com/2011/06/21/qt’s-future-for-nokia-bringing-apps-to-the-next-billion (cheers for the tip, Jim!)

Currently there are already 100 Million Qt enabled Symbian devices. Qt on S40 would mean Qt for the next Billion (remember, waiting on Qt for Symbian would only bring 150M more Symbian handsets – a bit far from a billion)

With a ‘dumbphone’ platform like S40, why would you need something like Qt? Well to turn it into a smartphone perhaps. We had some hints at S40′s transition when we heard about possible 1GHz devices (of course that didn’t appear), but imagine the possibility should Nokia ramp up the power in S40 to be able to fully use Qt? Nokia ships about half a billion phones a year, 400 million “dumbphones” though split to S30/S40. Pricing is a big reason for going S30/S40 – one of the drawbacks of higher specifications might be price.  Touch and Type S40 are around 100-130GBP, at high enough volume perhaps Nokia might be able to put more powerful processors in (perhaps not 1GHz, that’s not exactly necesary).

 

Here’s a comment from established MNB Reader, Ninja aka Smith :p

But by far, BY FAR, the most important announcement of the Singapore event was Qt on S40.

SUDDENLY, S40 becomes a de facto smartphone platform.

SUDDENLY, Qt effectively will become (from an app point of view) the biggest smartphone platform in the world by a LOOOONG way. Bit of a shock to all those who thought that Android was on the way to the top :)
As an OS it may be, but a software platform for developers Qt will be the biggest by a long way.

Note that iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) have 150 million devices total to date. Android has 100 million total to date.

Qt, considering current S^3 device sales, future Symbian sales and the fact it can be run on older Symbian devices with Qt Smart Installer, will be addressing roughly 250 million Symbian devices. Then add in S40 sales running at 350 – 400 million PER YEAR. Then factor in the efforts to put Qt on Android.

And later when someone mentioned Qt on S40 not mentioned

I was expecting someone to say this :). I watched the relevant portions of the event carefully before posting, and even though they didn’t say the words “Qt on S40″, it was VERY clear this is exactly what they meant.

They clearly said S40 powers their mobile phones, that mobile phones (not smartphones) are the key to the next billion, and multiple times said “Qt is the core to this next billion”. That definitely equates to Qt on S40. Incidentally others like AllAboutSymbian are saying the same and they’re very careful about what they put out.

The primary smartphone platform as Elop noted is Windows Phone. Imagine though that S40 could somehow weasel its way in (with some inspiration from Harmattan UI – Nokia said it will live on in future devices). That would be pretty disruptive – midranged, mid-priced handsets with a gorgeous UI and possible App support. Corner emerging markets and leave the high end for Windows Phone (and for this year MeeGo). The only thing that would make it better is if somehow Windows Phone supported the Qt ecosystem (though for now, that is seen to be detrimental to its development)

Here’s a comment from Mac discussing the possible feasibilities (in reply to the post about 1GHz S40 phones)

The only way this could happen is:

1. They found the code in s40 to be intact and not fragmented so hence easy to work with.

2. They changed the ui somewhat to make it more eyecandy like to appeal to the masses.

3. They include qt into the phone and enable it to do what they’ve been trying to achieve with s^3 that being a complete ui built on qt. Also maybe the reason for increased memory.

4. They plan on increasing hardware specs to utilise the better memory and ghz available to the phone or else its just wasted.

5. They maintain the price at a competitive level so that the consumer just buys these without even thinking about any other phones.

6. They increase the ‘smartness’ of these phones so that they have more ability than currently and cross that part from dumbness into borderline smart or maybe virtually the very same as smart.

Either way, if planned out correctly and executed perfectly, we could have a real disruption here that nobody and i mean nobody, would have expected. That said, imagine a smartphone that is that affordable and then wp7 fits in just above that. Sounds to me that maybe is what is planned for that next billion. You want a top notch nokia then you’d have to buy a wp7 device. For everything else, buy an s40! S40 looks to me like they havnt messed up if they have actually planned to do this.

Lastly, if Elop has conjured this up and makes it work, i applaud him cos that is smart. You have that market and to tell you the truth, if i had a choice between a cheap s40 device with the above specs and a cheap ZTE, what you’d think i’d choose? World renown brand or some brand that will always be classed as ‘from china’ and hence a ‘cheapo’. (Sorry no disrespect intended to the chinese but for some reason poor quality is always associated with china which is not entirely true, i mean look at the iphones made in china and sold through the world for an arm and a leg!!)

Category: Nokia

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com
  • Don

    “And later when someone mentioned Qt on S40 not mentioned”

    Yes hello :)

    “I was expecting someone to say this . I watched the relevant portions of the event carefully before posting, and even though they didn’t say the words “Qt on S40″, it was VERY clear this is exactly what they meant.”

    They went out of their way _not_ to say “Qt on S40″, forgive my in the Nokia case extremely well deserved paranoia, but they knew exactly what they were saying, and they chose to not say “Qt on S40″.

    Qt needs decent hardware (Symbian-decent, which is more than S40 decent at the moment), including more hardware (GPU) and memory than S40 currently has.

    On the other hand, I love a good conspiracy theory and this one certainly is :) Something is up, curious to see how it plays out.

    • Viipottaja

      Did they not constantly use the term “web based apps” during that segment in Singapore? I am not 100% sure what’s the significance of that, but I am almost 100% sure it was not accidental and that it has some significance.

      • Don

        I think they did say that a lot, but the whole point of S40 phones and their main markets is that people do not have 24/7 dataplans, didn’t they mention datatransfer over SMS even? So that might not be it either :/

        • Viipottaja

          well they talked about the Nokia browser, how it reduces data needs etc. etc.

    • Allan

      The C6-01 with Symbian (and Qt support) came out last fall. It was running a 680 Mhz CPU and was a mid-range device. If they push this down to the lower mid range or higher low range (cirka C3 or C4), slabs S40 on it and keeps other features to a minimum, it might work. An S40 device would have the mass production advantage and the simple fact that almost a year has passed means prices have gone down on that CPU. Plus they have already put out several devices with it… Need any more arguments? :)

      All I’m saying is: “it ain’t unthinkable” :)

    • Ninja

      Just to repeat my reasoning again Don as Jay published above:

      1.) They clearly said S40 powers their mobile phones,

      2.) that mobile phones (not smartphones) are the key to the next billion, and

      3.) multiple times said “Qt is the core to this next billion”.”

      So how do you put those statements by Nokia together and not get it to equal “Qt on S40″?

      ALSO and I think significantly, Rafe Blandford noless at AAS said specifically “Qt on S40″. This is probably the leading expert on Symbian, one of the leading experts on Nokia, and very careful about what he says. As I mentioned above also:

      “Incidentally others like AllAboutSymbian are saying the same and they’re very careful about what they put out.”

      You have given your point of view, but you have not refuted any of my reasons for saying what I said.

      • Don

        “So how do you put those statements by Nokia together and not get it to equal “Qt on S40″?”

        Because it is Nokia, their statements are not very trustworthy, S40 needs significantly more powerful hardware to run Qt, S40 is mostly a Java platform, and because they already evaluated porting to S40 when they bought Qt (and obviously didn’t think it would work, look how much pain it was to get Series 60 to work at all).

        I am not saying I don’t _want_ to see it, Qt it the best platform and I’d _love_ to see the new QML stuff shine on a nice GPU on a low budget S40 device, but there’s a reason they are so vague about it, and they may well have some kind of masterplan for the next billion, but it’s not a simple case of “Qt for S40″ (as we know S40).

        Also, I am well aware of Rafe and this is the exact quote:

        “This statement of intent by Nokia indicates that it intends to bring Qt to the Series 40 platform.”

        which is not as explicit as you claim.

        “You have given your point of view, but you have not refuted any of my reasons for saying what I said.”

        Let’s just say this is not the first time I’ve heard Nokia make a statement. You should know, considering how often you’ve said the new Symbian browser is “almost ready” between last november and now. What’s the latest now.. August? Maybe?

    • A-S-D

      One possibility is that it may not be called S40, instead something else to show the difference between these new Qt supporting devices and the older ones.
      If they don’t have at least 3 Qt S40 devices by the end of the year, they’re screwed. All they need in terms of hardware is the Broadcomm BCM2727, 256 MB of RAM (at the most, remember no multitasking) and at least a 434 MHz ARM11, preferably 600 MHz.

  • Jim

    So why not put current symbian at low end. qt is already ported on symbian. I think we need more details?

    remember that this sounds great, but how fast those apps will run, and how low they can get with hardware.

    Another thing is that market share is important but not so important as you think. iPhone has a lower market share than android but still can produce a much better revenue for developers. because the device is very expensive people who bought it are the ones that can afford to buy lots of apps.

    • Don

      (Perhaps S40 is a much nicer platform underneath, doesn’t need 300 different base versions for a single phone (N8 per language per region per color even)).

      But market share argument is a good point against this. S40 sells well already. So what if it now becomes a “smartphone” instead of “dumbphone”, or a potato. The same people will buy the same amount of devices for the same price. What is there to gain? Developers can already target the 10000 billion S40 devices with nice easy Java.

      (Not being facetious, just curious)

      • Allan

        Really, per color???

        It’s only natural that smartphone features bleed down, including apps. Qt on S40 would increase the valur proposition for everyone in the Nokia ecosystem, including those on Symbian devices as deveopers would be more easily attracted and Symbian would thus be more likely to keep having a fresh supply of apps. This is needed if Symbian is to keep Nokia going untill.. Well untill it can keep on going on anything that works.

        • Don

          Color affects selection of themes, which in itself is a nice touch; however in Symbian’s case options seem to combine exponentially instead of having say a language module to combine with a theme module, so it takes forever to get new firmware tested, let alone rolled out.

    • Allan

      Also: S40 is still much “simpler” to use. No multitasking (for now), etc. I know people who still prefer this over more advanced smartphones.

    • Ninja

      > So why not put current symbian at low end. qt is already ported on symbian. I think we need more details?

      Well of course. That was the obvious and possibly best thing to do, and that was the plan for ages, right?

      But then Microsoft came along, Elop came along, and look where we all are now… :(

      A skeleton with lipstick for a high end OS (WinPho), the world’s leading mobile OS (Symbian) in the bin, and the traditional featurephone OS (S40) being made to be a de facto smartphone OS (this last one being the only one that makes any sense and doesn’t have Microsoft’s stinking hands all over the decision making process).

  • d ^^ b

    This was discussed a bit already after feb 11 when it was questioned if Nokia had anymore any reason to have QT or did they buy Trolltech in vain.

    I think that at that point Elop said in some video( I’m too lazy to look it up) that they are looking into possibilities with S40. He was _very_ careful not to say that they would have made an decisions at that point.

    They still seem to be very careful not to say that it actually would happen, careful not to say those exact words, but apparently they haven’t totally discarded the idea.

    This would effectively put S40 to where Symbian was meant to be. Maybe not a bad idea but would require a lot of work.

    • d ^^ b

      If I understood correctly, S30 and S40 are UIs that have proprietary ISA( aka. Nokia OS) under them.
      So making it a smartphone OS would require some changes like open multitasking. Maybe it could be easy enough to build those features if the base at the moment is solid?
      From bottom to up and make an even more efficient OS? S40 has always been regarded as a good OS/UI while S60 and Symbian widely aren’t. If they do it right it’s better than Symbian, at least PR-wise.

      If they make this happen, there probably will be still also the cheaper non-smart S40 phones coming out. The S40 QT could also be a lighter subset of QT + QT Mobility + QML. Possibly with, oh so trendy, pseudo multitasking.
      This would actually be unfortunate because it might break the QT compatibility and there could be problems even between future S40 versions similar to S60 breaking compatibility between old Feature Packs.

      If they put QT to S40, and I do believe they will do that, I hope they manage to make it a light but still a real smartphone OS with real QT. A full QT even if it would mean that a smaller part of the S40 phones could use it.

      • admin

        meegoexperts.com/2011/04/nokias-future-os-opinons-meego-written/

    • Ninja

      > They still seem to be very careful not to say that it actually would happen, careful not to say those exact words, but apparently they haven’t totally discarded the idea.

      That’s so not true! Have you actually read any of the above story, what I wrote, or indeed the statements by Nokia!?

      Nokia specifically, clearly, and categorically said at their major public event today attended by press from all over the world:

      1.) They clearly said S40 powers their mobile phones,

      2.) that mobile phones (not smartphones) are the key to the next billion, and

      3.) multiple times said “Qt is the core to this next billion”.

      How do you or anyone work out that the above statements all remain true, and yet S40 does not get Qt? How is that logically possible?

      And as I have said 3 times now, Rafe @ AAS also agrees with Qt on S40 and he knows what he’s talking about.

      • Webby

        So why wouldn’t they just come out and say that Qt was now going to S40??? They were being coy for a reason. Whatever that reason may be.

      • d ^^ b

        Yes they said 1, 2 and 3, and as I said in my second comment( reply to the original, not the one you replied to so I understand if you missed it. )
        “If they put QT to S40, and I do believe they will do that,…” So yes I would gather that they will put QT on S40.

        But still they didn’t say the exact words “QT on S40″ or if they did then I missed that. The difference between then saying 1,2 and 3 and spelling it out is that with 1,2 and 3 it could very well be some bastardized, light version, not the real full QT, or some technology “powered by QT”. ( this is what I mentioned in my second comment )

        If they would have said “QT on S40″ I would have a bit of trust in getting the real full QT to S40.

        But ok, I’ll admit that I’m not yet _100%_ sure of any QT of S40 even though I’m _pretty_ sure there will be something.

  • Cod3rror

    I’ll give it two month before this plan is scrapped and a new “winning” strategy gets implemented.

    • Viipottaja

      Ok, we get your one joke show. How long are you going to keep doing it?

  • HD

    Have a look at official Nokia vid for C2-03. Indications of Qt on it are aplenty.

    • Usedtolovemeegoandnokia

      I thought so myself. I’ve been too disappointed by the move to WP7 to even care anymore but the C2-03 will replace my N900 once it breaks. I no longer need a smartphone when S40 does what I need already!

  • OSagnostic

    Does anyone know what processors the current S40 devices use ?

    • A-S-D

      I’m guessing 200 MHz ARM9′s and I know they all have 64 MB of RAM. Thats why the current ones won’t support Qt, I think…

  • Stuart

    Since S40 isn’t a smartphone OS, I don’t see that they will have any fragmentation or backwards compatibility issues if they want to change it to be a Qt Quick Phone OS. It doesn’t have to multitask or have all the Qt mobility features. That would be an amazing coup. Also, when Windows Phone releases a native development kit then Qt can be ported to Windows Phone and things go full circle.

  • Georg

    Good PR for Nokia, they can claim to be the largest smartphone manufacturer again. That’s all they care about anyway.

  • Jorge Arturo

    So actually Nokia killed Symbian only to revive it in s40

  • Matthew

    It would help if they added a single background process, to receive rush notifications (there is already one for sms service)…

    This would give feature parity with iOS, but maybe not the lovely user experience (that would be the job of Qt)

    • Matthew

      (that should have been “push notifications”, damn you auto-correct!)

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