For Digia's international Qt business, 2015 marked a period of unprecedented growth: 32 per cent. Several changes in Qt's organisation and operating models were introduced during the year.
From Digia's perspective, international business is strongly focused on the production and sale of software development tools. A spin-off of the Qt business was completed at the beginning of 2015, and in 2015 the company generated 25 per cent of Digia's aggregate net sales.
The Qt Commercial development environment is actively used by more than 5,000 desktop and embedded software customers. These customers represent a wide variety of sectors, including consumer electronics, automotive industry, aeronautics, energy, defence and the media. In terms of licence sales, the major markets are the United States, Germany and Japan. The bulk of Qt's net sales comes from licence sales, which have been growing throughout 2015.
Digia believes there is a growing need for graphic user interface development tools in the embedded systems software development markets. Driven by the huge success of smartphones, the touch screen is now practically the industry standard for all devices. In response, in 2015 Digia focused on stepping up its Qt offering to meet the challenges of embedded system development.
Digia has invested significantly in Qt, believing it to be a competitive software development environment for all leading operating systems in all target markets. The Qt ecosystem has seen tremendous growth: the Qt 5.5 version released in May 2015 was downloaded more than a million times, and the qt.io website attracts 500,000 visitors monthly.
In the Qt business, the market can be roughly divided into three areas: desktop software, embedded software and mobile applications. Digia's customer companies develop their own applications or products in these areas. In 2015, Digia improved its offering, particularly in embedded software. New product versions include features tailored exclusively for these special areas, as well as functionality exclusive to commercial licence holders.
More extensive changes were made to the open source code licensing model; these were introduced with the Qt 5.5 version released in July.
Other improvements to the Qt offering include the new Qt Application Development – a product that provides all the desktop and mobile platforms needed for state-of-the-art application development. These changes were also published in the digital sales channel (qt.io).
In addition to taking steps to improve basic products, we have pooled our resources with our partners to develop our offering in the automotive segment. In October 2015, we released the Qt Automotive Suite, which offers new features and tools to automotive manufacturers and provides faster market access for In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) solutions. This product will be available in the second quarter of 2016.
Alongside product development, business development was a strong focus area in 2015. The objective was to expand Digia’s own sales network and its distributor network. Digia currently has sales offices in Europe, North America and Asia. The Asian network expanded with an office in South Korea, which was opened on 1 October 2015. Our own sales office network is supported by distributors in Russia, Japan, Poland, China and India. New distributors joined the team in Turkey and Poland in 2015.
The year-on-year increase in Qt’s net sales was 32 per cent in 2015. Much of this growth could be attributed to more extensive and more efficient sales operations.
Efforts to boost sales will continue in 2016. Further growth will be sought from business development in embedded systems, especially in the automotive industry and consumer electronics.