Microsoft is shaking things up in a big way this week. Earlier today, it announced plans to shed up to 18,000 employees over the next year. The firm is also abandoning Android and feature phone development under the Nokia brand to focus on Windows Phone devices.
The handset plans come from a pair of emails. One, from Microsoft executive VP Stephen Elop, was publicly released on the company's site. The other, a leaked internal memo from Nokia executive VP of Smart Devices Jo Harlow, is quoted at BGR. Here's the relevant section of Elop's message:
In the near term, we plan to drive Windows Phone volume by targeting the more affordable smartphone segments, which are the fastest growing segments of the market, with Lumia. In addition to the portfolio already planned, we plan to deliver additional lower-cost Lumia devices by shifting select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices. We expect to make this shift immediately while continuing to sell and support existing Nokia X products.
Based on that statement, I expect the best Nokia X products in the pipeline will be rebranded as Lumia devices and sold with Windows Phone. Any handsets that don't make the cut are likely to be consigned to the trash heap.
Harlow's memo spells out the end for the company's Asha, Series 40, and Nokia X devices. It says that "with the clear focus on Windows Phones, all Mobile Phones-related services and enablers are planned to move into maintenance mode, effective immediately," and that Nokia is "committed to supporting [its] existing customers, and will ensure proper operation during the controlled shutdown of services over the next 18 months."
These changes are part of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's new strategy for the company. Whatever the motivation for developing Nokia Android devices in the first place, Microsoft now seems to feel that only its Windows Phone software can deliver on its future direction. With only a 3% share of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2014, however, the platform has a very long road ahead of it.
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