Nokia sidelines Symbian to low-end; makes 300 staff redundant

While Nokia's new CEO was announcing better than anticipated financial results and praising the embattled company's 'hidden gems', employees at Symbian offices in the UK were being told that 300 would lose their jobs.

This move would seem to be part of Nokia's new strategy to 'simplify' its approach to its OS line-up by pushing its Qt app developer framework software more to the fore, and dropping any future reference to Symbian^3 or Symbian^4. The apparent thought behind this move is to have applications that would work both on Symbian and MeeGo products.

The ramifications of this focus on Qt would be the closure of Symbian's Cambridge office, together with redundancies at its main London head office. The 300 Symbian jobs losses, which Nokia has yet to confirm, would seem to be part of the 1,800 that the CEO announced during his third quarter report last week.

The company said that a benefit of this simplified approach [using Qt] was "that planned and future improvements in Symbian would be developed in Qt and would be compatible with the existing Symbian^3 platform release."

Casting doubt on whether Symbian^4 would ever appear, the spokesman added that future releases of the Symbian platform were expected to arrive to Symbian^3 users too, and that the previous release-based model for the platform would be replaced by a continuous evolution approach.

"We're making strategic technology decisions that will accelerate our ability to offer the strongest possible opportunity for developers and the richest possible experience for consumers," said Rich Green, CTO of Nokia.

While this statement would seem to point to Symbian no longer being the OS of choice for Nokia's high-end products, the OS looks set to remain the powerhouse of the mass market smartphone, though it may become increasingly invisible to the user, in the way of lower end OSs like Series 40 today.

The de-emphasis of Symbian, together with the job losses, could be the reason for the sudden departure of Lee Williams, the company's CEO. While no reason was given for his resignation, Symbian's failure to halt the rise of Android and other smartphone operating systems will have caused Nokia execs to review the company's OS strategy.

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