Yesterday Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella informed employees that there would be over 12,500 job cuts at Nokia Devices and Services business by next year. Now BGR India, which was privy to an internal memo sent by Jo Harlow, reports that the company will also be phasing out its feature phone and Nokia X Android smartphones. Jo Harlow heads the phone business under Microsoft devices. Microsoft acquired Nokia’s Devices and Services business last year for EUR 5.44 billion.
The memo mentions that Microsoft plans to immediately ramp down all developer engagement activities related to Nokia X, Asha and Series 40 apps. It adds that services to support existing devices will be shifted to “maintenance mode.” And there will be a controlled shutdown of support for existing mobile phone customers over the next 18 months.
In his email yesterday, Nadella had hinted at such a possibility. He had said that they plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows. He had added that such a move would perfectly align with their focus on Windows Universal Apps.
In the memo Harlow categorically states that there will be no new features or updates to services on any Mobile Phones platform as a result of these plans. The Verge reports that in memo Harlow also mentions that Microsoft plans to offer customers a mix of platforms, services, and applications, alongside hardware. At Nokia, he adds, the primary goal was successful hardware.
Microsoft Executive Vice President Stephen Elop had also emphasised the same in his email to employees yesterday. He said it is important to recognize that the role of phones within Microsoft is different than it was within Nokia.
Nokia Asha snub
The Nokia Asha series of low-end smartphones had been especially designed keeping the Indian market in mind. Microsoft’s decision to halt development of the Asha line-up and eventually shut it down is noteworthy. The Asha series was one of the keys to Nokia’s revival in India. This move further highlights that Microsoft is willing to let go of a successful products in its bid to bolster the Lumia+Windows Phone line-up.
Targeting the affordable smartphone market
In the short-term Microsoft will focus on high-end Windows Phones, like Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520. Eventually Nokia’s Android phones would be redesigned as Lumia and Windows Phone products. Harlow further adds that these handsets will represent Microsoft’s focus on the affordable smartphone market over the course of the next year.
In his mail Elop said that Microsoft plans to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia.
Google’s increasing focus on the Android One project and now Microsoft entering the affordable smartphone market with renewed vigour means that 2015 will be an extremely interesting year for smartphone enthusiasts, especially in the emerging markets like India.