THE WRAP: Symbian is Accenture's problem now
It was the week that saw Nokia slim down and outsource Symbian, PCCW’s latest telecom spin-off plan rejected, and True and DTAC take each other to court in Thailand.
In another not-so-good sign for both Nokia and its Symbian smartphone platform, the handset maker announced that Accenture will take over software development and support services, along with 3,000 Nokia employees in five countries. Nokia will also lay off another 4,000 employees as part of a bit to cut €1 billion in handset R&D spending.
But speculation remains rife that Symbian could be dropped, as Nokia has also contracted Accenture to help build an ecosystem around Windows Phone 7 with an option to “retrain and redeploy transitioned employees” to that end.
It was also the week that saw the Hong Kong stock exchange deny PCCW's request to spin off its telecom business into a listed business trust.
The Wall Street Journal speculates the exchange may have decided that whatever would remain of PCCW after the spin-off would be insufficient to justify being a separate listed company. Either way, it’s the seventh time PCCW has tried to reorganize its telecom business since 2006.
It was a week of legal squabbling in Thailand, with DTAC filing a court challenge to state-owned CAT’s agreement with True Corp to jointly invest in CDMA and HSPA services. DTAC CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah said the deal was anti-competitive and breaches the country’s joint venture law, with the potential to damage the country’s telecom industry.
True promptly struck back with a lawsuit to shut down DTAC completely on the grounds that its concession breaches the same joint venture law.
SingTel also found itself in legal hot water this week after India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) ruled that the telco had violated the country’s telecom licensing norms – specifically, acquiring and billing customers in India for international long distance services without a proper license, between 2005 and 2009. Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications, which provide international private lease circuits to SingTel, have been cleared of wrongdoing.
Financial results for the week: KDDI grew its annual profit nearly 20% for the year ending in March, despite significant costs incurred from the Japanese earthquake; Ericsson tripled its Q1 profit thanks to strong demand for mobile broadband, Nokia shrugged off lower device sales to grow profits €175 million to €231 million, and China Unicom saw its Q1 profit plummet 86% as 3G handset subsidies continued to take their toll on the bottom line.
The week’s Big Deal: VimpelCom paid $196 million (€131 million) to increase its stake in its Vietnamese joint venture, GTEL Mobile, and will take control of the venture.
Big Plans announced this week: Telkomsel set aside $1.1 billion to develop its wireless data services; Celcom Axiata said it will spend big to ensure 30% of its customer base is comprised of smartphone users; and ZTE said it will launch 30 new models of smartphones and tablets this year as new growth engines for the company.
And finally, it was the week in which we learned from Sony that someone hacked into its PlayStation Network – which went offline last week – and stole personal information about users of PSN and Qriocity, including their names, birth dates and possibly credit card numbers.
Sony says it should have PSN back up within a week, but by then it may have racked up $20 million in lost revenue, says Informa Telecoms & Media.
In the meantime, Sony says users should watch out extra closely for phishing scams. "Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information," the company said.