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Today brings news of yet another round of capital-intensive cost-cutting for the challenged mobile phone maker Nokia: the company today announced that it would be transferring smartphone assembly from factories in Hungary, Finland and Mexico, and putting the operation in Asia.
The plants will remain operational now for “smartphone product customization.” The news comes amidst unconfirmed reports that the company is planning to curtail its Symbian lineup after the release of the next model.
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) says that the transfer will result in the loss of 4,000 jobs in total, and the reductions will take place through the end of 2012.
Nokia does not outline how much the move to Asia will mean in terms of money saved, but this is a decision that has been some time in the making: these were plants that were spared in the last round of cuts under CEO Stephen Elop.
Since then, Nokia has reported yet more declines in its smartphone shipments, mainly around its legacy Symbian platform. The company is now gradually moving to making more of its smartphone portfolio based on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform.
Now, Nokia says that the move is being made to put the manufacturing bases closer to where the different components are being made for those smartphones. That is a move we have seen from many other companies — and was the subject of a series of stories recently concerning Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in China and the role of Foxconn in that business.
The move to make these plants focused on customization, meanwhile, points to some focus that Nokia does seem to maintain on its software and services for its devices — a crucial part of the company’s differentiation as it moves more and more to a platform being used by its competitors as well. Others that make Windows Phone devices include Samsung and HTC.
The news comes amidst other reports about Nokia that claim the company is planning to curtail its Symbian lineup after the next model comes out.
Symbian is gradually being phased out for Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, but Nokia had originally said it would support the OS until 2016, and that could still be the case even if it stopped making devices based on it. Nokia transferred the operation of Symbian to Accenture last year.
A spokesperson from Nokia told paidContent that the article was “speculative at best” and would not comment on device rumor or speculation:
“As we have previously said Symbian continues to be an important part of our portfolio and going forward it will play a more focused role as we accelerate our transition to Windows Phone,” he said. “We remain fully committed to the platform through 2016, which means on-going software support as we go forward.”
The company is currently rolling out an update to Symbian, Belle, and the devices remain popular in the Middle East, Russia and India, even as they have lost out to Android-based devices, Apple’s iPhone and even RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) in other markets.