Microsoft has confirmed that it will be shedding nearly 8,000 jobs from its Nokia mobile phone unit, fueling speculation that its Windows Phone range could become a thing of the past.
The American software giant purchased Nokia’s mobile phone business in April 2014 for a reported £4.5 billion and had already reduced the businesses workforce by 18,000 people.
The purchase was masterminded by former Microsoft chief executive Steve Balmer and for a time things looked promising, with the Windows Phone’s market share rising from 2.1 per cent to 3.4 per cent late last year.
But, sales have not continued to grow in 2015 and Apple and Android devices continue to dominate.
In a message issued to staff, current CEO Satya Nadella stated that he wants to take the company into areas where there is potential for “differentiation and growth” and that means its phone business will undergo a “fundamental restructuring”.
Some 7,800 jobs will be lost and the company will take a hit of $7.6 billion (approx. £5 billion) on its investment.
The job losses account for around 6.5 per cent of Microsoft’s workforce and in excess of 2,000 of them will take place in Nokia’s home country of Finland.
Still committed to the mobile sector
Despite all this, Mr Nadella still believes the Windows Phone can be a major force in the mobile market. Speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Florida, he said that new high-end Lumia handsets have been designed and will become available later this year.
He stated that job cuts did not alter the company’s “vision” but merely represent a need for a different approach, and that future phones will be aimed more at markets which appreciate “uniqueness” over conformity.
Mr Nadella added that Microsoft will continue to manufacture Windows Phones if other handset makers fail to take on its operating system, and that the organization’s decision to offer all current users an upgrade to Windows 10 shows how committed it is to the project.
This will be good news to users of Windows Phones, who have in the past bemoaned the lack of premium devices available on the platform. Despite it failure to become a serious rival to iOS and Android, many people simply love their Windows device and improvements made in recent years means they are very good.
For example, the Cortana personal assistance service is just as good as Apple’s Siri, and wireless charging means there’s no need for fiddly chargers.
More apps are needed
If Microsoft is to make a success of future mobile ventures then it is going to have to ensure users have access to a wider variety of apps. Because of the dominance of Apple and Google, many developers have shied away from offering their products on the Windows platform and that will have to change.
Microsoft is hoping to attract between one and three billion users to Windows 10 within the next three years and that should make the operating system attractive to app developers, but whether the company can really achieve that goal remains to be seen.
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