Nokia CTO Green takes leave of absence

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CTO Rich Green is taking a leave of absence from the company due to personal reasons, the latest in a string of blows the handset maker has sustained over the past few days.



Nokia spokeswoman Laurie Armstrong confirmed that Green is on leave but did not specify when he might return. Henry Tirri, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and the head of Nokia Research Center, will assume Green's responsibilities. Armstrong said Green's departure will have no impact on the company's product strategy or expected product launch timelines.

Meanwhile, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat citing two unnamed sources,  reported that Green has left the company due to differences of opinion on software strategy, will gone through year-end and is unlikely to return. According to the report, Green wanted to continue development of MeeGo, the open-source platform Nokia developed with Intel. Nokia instead chose Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform. Armstrong declined to comment on the report.

The departure comes as Standard & Poor's cut it credit rating on Nokia to BBB+/A-2 and placed the company on CreditWatch with negative implications. On Tuesday, Fitch cut its credit rating on Nokia to BBB-, or one step above junk grade.

Additionally, Texas Instruments, which counts Nokia as one of its largest customers, said that it was reducing expectations for its second quarter due to Nokia's own reduced guidance. Nokia warned last week of a slowdown in second-quarter profits and sales, sending its stock sliding and sparking a wave of analyst downgrades.  "All of the change in the middle range of the update, versus where we were previously, was associated with that customer," Ron Slaymaker, TI's vice president of investor relations, said on a conference call Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We will probably see more of these negative news for Nokia in the coming weeks," Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies told Reuters. "All the effects caused by the profit warning have not yet come through."

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, speaking at the Open Mobile Summit in London, repeated many of claims he has made at recent industry events, and also denied speculation that Nokia could be a takeover target. He said the company is committed to providing low-end mass market phones, where the company has seen rising competition, particularly from Asian vendors such as Huawei and ZTE. "We have not announced specifically what that means in terms of technology, in terms of platform. But watch this space," he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires. "Our investment in this area from a research and development perspective is absolutely going to increase because of the recognized opportunity to pursue that market."

Interestingly, Elop suggested part of the low-end strategy could include Windows Phone. "Windows Phone as its first entrance strategy was at the high end," he said. "It's very much a part of what we will contribute to Microsoft to make sure that Windows Phone comes in other price points as well."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Helsingin Sanomat article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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