Nokia to halve next year's smartphone portfolio

Nokia next year will cut the number of smartphones it releases roughly in half in order to better compete with the likes of Apple and Research In Motion. The company has introduced around 20 different smartphone models this year.

"We see ... really fierce competition certainly in the high end, but we also see it in the mid to low end of smartphones increasing," Jo Harlow, the head of Nokia's smartphone unit, said in a webcast. "We will defend our position, but we believe we also have tools to play offense as well as defense."

Indeed, Nokia has hinted at a reduction in the number of its forthcoming smartphone models; Nokia during the past several weeks has slashed close to 600 research-and-development jobs in locations across the globe, partly due to its plans to slim down its global handset portfolio in a bid to focus on fewer, flashier phones.

That Nokia is reworking its approach to smartphones comes as little surprise. In the third quarter, Nokia's smartphone market share dropped from 41 percent a year ago to 35 percent. It is still the global leader in smartphones, but Apple and BlackBerry maker RIM have been making gains. Further, Nokia reshuffled its front office in the wake of its $834 million loss in the third quarter. The company appointed CFO Rick Simonson as the new head of the Mobile Phones unit within Nokia's devices business. And Harlow moved from being senior vice president of global marketing for Nokia's handsets to running the company's Smartphones unit, the other unit in Nokia's devices business.

Earlier this week, Nokia said it expects the overall handset market to grow by 10 percent next year, though its own share of the market will remain flat during that period. The world's largest handset maker also reiterated its commitment to the Symbian platform as its main smartphone operating system (reserving Maemo for high-end devices), and said it will improve the user interface on Symbian.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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