Nokia's R&D workforce under threat with Microsoft deal

Nokia released two new devices based on the Symbian platform on Tuesday, but concerns emerged that the company will announce cuts in its research and development activities that could amount to nearly 40 per cent of its R&D workers as it shifts its weight behind Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.

Following Nokia's announcement on the eve of the Mobile World Congress in February that Windows Phone 7 would become its main smartphone operating system, Nokia's staff have been waiting to see the full impact of that decision. As many as 6,000 research and development jobs could be cut, Antti Rinne of Pro, Finland's biggest private-sector office-worker union, told Bloomberg, amounting to 38 per cent of Nokia's global R&D workforce.

With Nokia's next quarterly results due next week, the company is expected to release more information on the cuts as the markets look for clarification. While unwilling to reveal numbers, the company did confirm to Bloomberg that cuts would not be restricted to just Finland.

"This doesn't make for very efficient or creative working conditions," Kalle Kiili, an engineer in Tampere, a research site that employs 3,000 workers, and representative of the YTN union, told Bloomberg. "This waiting is expensive and we've already had a reorganization of R&D in 2009 and another reorganization of Symbian in the second half of 2010, just as the organization was starting to work properly again."

In its 2010 annual report, the company had readied employees and the markets for substantial change saying that the deal with Microsoft would have significant impact on its operations and that included substantial reductions in personnel. However, Nokia has not disclosed much about the potential cuts since then. 

Nokia has said it intends to sell 150 million more Symbian phones during the next few years of its transition to Windows Phone. Nokia has an installed user base of around 200 million Symbian phones worldwide.

Nokia has developed a reputation for employing some of the best engineering minds in the industry and amongst those who might be in the running to sign up some of the casualties is Intel, which is upping its presence in Finland, according to Reuters. The likes of Google and Skype are also looking for Finnish engineering talent.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Financial Times article
- see this Reuters article

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