At the Salo end of Nokia's deep crisis

Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:37am EDT
 
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By Eero Vassinen

SALO, Finland (Reuters) - Nokia workers in Salo thought chief executive Stephen Elop signaled that their plant, Europe's last major mobile phone factory, would survive when he visited in February, but last week he announced its closure anyway.

This final chapter in Nokia's long goodbye to manufacturing in Finland will claim about 850 jobs, on top of 1,000 announced earlier in the year, and rob the town of 90 percent of its tax revenue.

Once the world's dominant mobile phone provider, Nokia has been bested in a smartphone war by Apple and Samsung and other phones running Google software. It is also losing share in the market for more basic phones.

Its strategy to reverse its fortunes, abandoning its own Symbian smartphone software in favor of a largely untested alternative from Microsoft, Elop's former employer, has limped from setback to setback.

Sales of Nokia's new Windows Phone models, the Lumia series, have been slow to pick up, while the bottom has fallen out of the market for old phones running dead-end Symbian.

As recently as this week, Microsoft revealed that a new version of its software won't run on the existing Lumia range, and a Wall Street analyst said the software giant was looking at making its own phones in direct competition with its new partner.

Over two years, workers at Nokia have become familiar with bad news, but are still not inured to it.

"During my whole time, 15 years and 10 months with Nokia, someone was always saying Nokia will abandon Finland. But it was still a surprise," said Katja Taskinen, who took a buyout offer in an earlier round of cuts this year.   Continued...

 
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop looks on during the company's news conference in Espoo, June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kimmo Mantyla/Lehtikuva