Nokia to Consolidate Handset Lineup…Finally

Nokia (s nok) said today it’s slashing 330 research and development jobs in Europe as it looks to consolidate its handset lineup and focus on high-end smartphones. The move is a small one and long overdue, but it is a step toward getting Nokia back in the game.

The Finnish company’s success selling low- to mid-range smartphones in developing markets is well documented, but Nokia continues to lose ground in the U.S. and Europe as superphones from Apple (s aapl) and Research In Motion (s rimm) chip away at its market share. And Nokia is increasingly threatened by Android (s goog), which has gained sudden momentum in the wake of its Verizon Wireless (s vz) Droid initiative.

Nokia may feel a pinch as it severs the R&D personnel, but the company will surely continue to innovate with its Maemo OS and S60 devices.  And it’s not like innovation has ever been a problem for Nokia — its struggles since the emergence of the iPhone have stemmed from its aging Symbian platform, its unwillingness to bow to U.S. carriers and an utter lack of affordable, iconic devices. Shifting its focus toward higher-end handsets that produce better margins will be a step in the right direction.