Nokia announces layoffs, low-cost phones

Finnish mobile-phone giant Nokia will drop up to 600 employees as it reorganizes operations, closes a plant, and contemplates global poverty.

In its ongoing effort to address the global digital divide, Nokia is launching both new low-cost handsets in the New Delhi market and a service for rural areas of India, other parts of Asia, and Africa.

Two handset models, the 2323 classic and the 2330 classic, will lead the charge into New Delhi, with plans to expand later in Africa and Asia. Meanwhile, "Nokia Life Tools," which is a partnership with info-provider Reuters Market Light and local GSM provider Idea Cellular Limited, will provide farmer-centric information on crop prices, weather, and similar concerns. The service will also offer ringtone downloads and an astrology service. That service will launch its pilot program using the 2600 classic and the Nokia 1680, with localization in English, Hindi and Marathi.

That's the good news -- and perhaps a good sign for Nokia's long-term thinking about where growth opportunities may lie. The job cuts, meanwhile, include restructuring to the company's sales and marketing operations. Perhaps as many as 450 jobs will be cut, most of them outside Finland. Another 220 jobs will go when the Turku plant is closed down, though the company says those employees will be offered relocation to facilities in Salo or Helsinki.

Going forward, the Nokia Research Center will be focusing its efforts on fewer research areas. Around 130 employees there will be affected by the upcoming cuts. A further 35 positions will disappear from the company's global process operations.

Nokia's not having much fun in the market lately. Its third-quarter earnings, which were announced in mid-October, are down 28% year-over-year, and between the iPhone and Android, the force of "buzz" hasn't been with Nokia for some time (though so far global market share's down only around one percent). In a similar vein, Motorola announced last week that it's letting about 3,000 employees go.

Nokia, which leads the mobile-phone market in sales, moved 117.8 million handsets last quarter. The company has previously indicated that it means to focus more of its energies on emerging markets.

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