Nokia Dumps Symbian, 3,000 Employees On Accenture4:55 PM EST Wed. Apr. 27, 2011
Nokia on Wednesday confirmed it will shift responsibility for software development on its Symbian OS to integrator giant Accenture -- a move that will see Accenture provide support services for Symbian going forward and also absorb 3,000 current Nokia employees.
It's part of a restructuring for Nokia that will eliminate 7,000 jobs overall, and take Symbian essentially off Nokia's hands as it plans to focus on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 as its go-to platform for mobile devices.
According to a statement from Nokia, it plans to reduce its global workforce by 7,000 employees -- 4,000 in addition to the 3,000 going to Accenture -- by the end of 2012. The cuts will be primarily in Denmark, Finland and the U.K., with some in China and the U.S., according to Nokia, which will also consolidate and close some of its R&D development sites.
It's all part of a stated plan to cut 1 billion Euros -- about $1.47 billion -- in operating expenses by 2013.
"At Nokia we have new clarity around our path forward, which is focused on our leadership across smart devices, mobile phones and future disruptions," said Stephen Elop, Nokia's president and CEO, in a statement. "However, with this new focus, we also will face reductions in our workforce. This is a difficult reality, and we are working closely with our employees and partners to identify long-term re-employment programs for the talented people of Nokia."
According to most estimates, Symbian was still the world's most widely deployed mobile OS at the end of 2010, but its market share -- and Nokia's as the world's dominant mobile phone vendor -- has steadily declined in the face of competition from Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry and a legion of Google Android-based devices.
Nokia said earlier this year that it would ally with Microsoft and use Windows Phone 7 for future mobile devices instead of continue to invest in Symbian -- a strategic alliance said to be costing Microsoft billions paid to Nokia.
Elop, who became CEO of Nokia in September, was formerly the head of Microsoft's Business Division. It was Elop's now-infamous "burning platform" memo -- a February missive in which he described Nokia as "years behind" its competition -- that seemed to signal big changes afoot at the beleaguered Finnish mobile phone giant. The Nokia-Microsoft alliance was confirmed Feb. 11, and Nokia has said it will open the floodgates on shipments of Windows Phone 7 devices starting next year.
While Accenture's role in the Symbian hand-off is newly confirmed, its partnership with Nokia is not. The two companies have been working together since 1994, and Accenture in October 2009 acquired the Nokia professional services unit that provided engineering and support of Symbian to mobile device manufacturers and service providers. Under the deal, Accenture will also become a "preferred provider" of Nokia's smartphone development activities and services with Windows Phone 7.
"Mobility is a key area for Accenture," said Marty Cole, chief executive of Accenture's Communications and High Tech Group, in a statement. "This collaboration with Nokia will enhance our ability to help clients across multiple industries leverage mobility to advance their business agendas. It's a real win-win for Accenture and Nokia."
In the statement, Nokia said Accenture and Nokia will "seek opportunities to retrain and redeploy transitioned employees" moving to Accenture.
Nokia and Accenture did not disclose the financial terms of their arrangement.