Nokia sells modem business, pledges ‘laser focus’ on smartphone segment

Finnish handset vendor Nokia has sold its wireless modem business to Japanese semiconductor manufacturer Renesas for $200m. The announcement came on the heels of a blog post from Anssi Vanjoki, head of the newly created Solutions unit within Nokia,  in which he pledged to launch a fightback that would re-establish Nokia as leader in the smartphone space.

Nokia and Renesas said they will continue to collaborate on the development of modem technologies for HSPA+ and LTE as well as on research into future radio technologies. The deal will see 1,100 Nokia R&D staff, currently based in Finland, India, the UK and Denmark, transferred to Renesas along with an undisclosed number of patents relating to wireless modem technology.

While Renesas talked up the benefits of the acquisition in terms of its its strengthened position in the sector, Nokia suggested that the wireless modem business had come to be seen as a distraction from its key aim of re-taking the lead spot in the smartphone space. “The alliance enables us to continue to focus on our own core businesses, connecting people to what matters to them wtih our mobile products and solutions,” said Kai Oistamo, executive vice president at the firm.

This chimed with a recent blog post from Anssi Vanjoki, in which Nokia’s head of Solutions marked the start of his new job with a rallying cry. “I am committed, perhaps even obsessed, with getting Nokia back to being number one in high-end devices,” he said, conceding that this would prove more than a little challenging. “Achieving this will require performance and efforts over and above the norm,” he said.

Vanjoki looked forward to the commercial arrival of the N8 handset, which he revealed will be the first and last N-series device from the firm based on Symbian 3, and gave a clear indication that an N-series device based on Symbian 4 is in the offing. He reiterated Nokia’s commitment to Symbian, and to MeeGo for mobile computing form factors, and dismissed suggestions that Nokia has been considering the release of an Android-based product.

“Together, Symbian and MeeGo will form the backbone of our Mobile Solutions unit. This unit contains all the assets it requires to develop and deliver inspiring and game-changing products,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nokia looked to strengthen its smartphone play further with the hiring of Charmaine Eggberry as senior vice president for marketing. Eggberry joined Nokia on Monday from rival smartphone vendor Research in Motion, where she was vice president and managing director for EMEA.

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