Nokia to slash up to 310 jobs as it shifts focus from VR to digital health

Rajeev Suri
Nokia CEO Rajiv Suri

Nokia said it will cut as much as 30% of personnel in its Technologies unit as it halts work on its virtual reality camera to hone its focus on the digital health market.

The venerable Finnish company announced it will halt work on future versions of Ozo, a virtual reality camera it unveiled two years ago, citing a VR market that has yet to take flight. Instead, Nokia said, it will up its efforts “on growing brand and technology licensing,” leaving its patent licensing business “untouched.”

The company could slash as many as 310 jobs at Nokia Technologies, primarily in Finland, the United States and the U.K.

“Nokia Technologies as at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity,” said Gregory Lee, president of Nokia Technologies, in a press release. “While necessary, the changes will also affect our employees, and as a responsible company we are committed to providing the needed support to those affected.”

Indeed, the markets for augmented reality and virtual reality devices and applications are potentially massive, but the segments have yet to gain much real traction among consumers or businesses. Nokia is clearly betting that it can reap the rewards of a digital health market that may be maturing more quickly but also faces serious challenges of its own.

“We see a world where a highly connected digital healthcare system will supersede the constraints of a physical hospital or doctor’s office,” Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said during a keynote address at Mobile World Congress Americas last month. “What was old will become new again with the return of a house call, albeit a digital one, whether the patient is across town or on the other side of the world.”