Nokia outsources Symbian development, sheds 4,000 jobs

In what appears to be another move to distance itself from Symbian, Nokia on Wednesday announced plans to outsource development of the floundering operating system to consultancy and outsourcing firm Accenture. As part of the process, the Finnish giant will also transition some 3,000 employees to the outsourcing firm.

The affected employees are currently based in China, Finland, India, the UK and the US and over time, with the process starting before year end, the company will seek opportunities to “retrain and redeploy transitioned employees”.

The move casts Nokia in the role of hardware developer. Under the collaboration agreement, Accenture will provide Symbian-based software development and support services to Nokia for future smartphones, extending beyond Symbian. Accenture will provide mobility software, business and operational services around the Windows Phone platform to Nokia and other ecosystem participants.

“This collaboration demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhance our Symbian offering and serve our smartphone customers,” said Jo Harlow, executive vice president for Smart Devices, Nokia. “As we move our primary smartphone platform to Windows Phone, this transition of skilled talent to Accenture shows our commitment to provide our Symbian employees with potential new career opportunities.”

In October 2009, Accenture acquired Nokia’s professional services unit that provides engineering and support of the Symbian operating system to mobile device manufacturers and service providers, and which then served as a key building block in Accenture’s Mobility services portfolio.

But the changes don’t stop there. As part of measures to reduce its Devices & Services operating expenses by €1bn for the full year 2013, the Finnish firm will reduce its global workforce by about 4,000 employees by the end of 2012, with the majority of reductions in Denmark, Finland and the UK. The company’s research and product development sites will be hit hard, with the expansion of some sites and the contraction or closure of others.

“At Nokia, we have new clarity around our path forward, which is focused on our leadership across smart devices, mobile phones and future disruptions,” said Stephen Elop, Nokia president and CEO. “However, with this new focus, we also will face reductions in our workforce. This is a difficult reality, and we are working closely with our employees and partners to identify long-term re-employment programs for the talented people of Nokia.”

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