Summary:

Stephen Elop may be splashing a lot of water, but the platform is still burning: today the handset maker faced another big setback, as it em…

Richard Green, Nokia CTO

Stephen Elop may be splashing a lot of water, but the platform is still burning: today the handset maker faced another big setback, as it emerged that its CTO, Richard Green, has taken a leave of absence from the company. His day-to-day duties will be assumed by Henry Tirri, who heads up the company’s research center.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Green have not publicly given a reason for his leaving the company, apart from saying it was to “attend a personal matter” — or for how long he will remain away. It has told us that the change does not impact the company’s product strategy or launch timelines. (see full update below)

A Finnish newspaper, the Helsingin Sanomat, quoted unnamed sources that said he was unhappy with Nokia abandoning MeeGo in favor of Windows Phone. It also added that he was unlikely to return to his role (via Yahoo).

Earlier today, speaking at a conference in London before news of Green’s leaving broke, Stephen Elop said that continuing on with MeeGo was untenable because it would not have been able to create devices at scale, and at the number of price points required to serve all of Nokia’s developed and developing markets, in a short amount of time.

Richard Green had only joined Nokia last year, coming from Sun Microsystems where he had been an EVP in charge of software. He had been with Sun for 19 years.

Green’s leave is the latest executive upheaval at the operator, which has lost a CEO, several other EVPs and its long-serving chairman (and former CEO) in the last year.

We have contacted Nokia for more comment and will update this post as we learn more.

Update: Nokia provided mocoNews with the following statement: “Rich Green has taken leave to attend to a personal matter. We have not provided a specific timetable for his return. During Rich’s absence, Henry Tirri, head of Nokia Research Center, will assume the responsibilities of the CTO office. This has no impact on our product strategy or our expected product launch timelines.”

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