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Elop: Finnish R&D Remains 'Heart and Soul' of Nokia

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, interviewed on YLE television on Wednesday evening, stressed that Nokia's software development in Finland will continue to drive the company despite a partnership with Microsoft.

"R&D in Finland remains the heart and soul of the company," Elop said on the 'A-plus' talk show programme. "It's still the largest R&D site for the company. We also announced today that some of the principle sites for Windows Phone development will be here in Finland."

Declaring that "it's now a three-horse race with Apple and Google/Android," he said the Microsoft pairing has created great excitement among developers.

Elop says that Nokia seriously considering joining forces with Google but was "significantly worried that it would be simply us participating in somebody else's world with little chance of making our products different from everything else that's going on. The feeling within the heart of Nokia was that we wanted to fight and to challenge the status quo... and I heard a lot about sisu during these conversations," he said, referring to the traditional Finnish ideal of guts and persistence.

Good Prospects with Accenture

Likewise, he spoke highly of the outsourcing arrangement with the large multinational Accenture, announced on Wednesday. He denied that the task of firing them had simply been passed on to the consulting firm.

"As we were planning the relationship with them, we spent a great deal of time planning the right number of people to go to Accenture so that we would have reasonable confidence that they would have longer term employment path there. We did not want to take the approach of moving people to Accenture that would then face immediate layoffs. That was not our plan at all."

Asked whether they will lose their jobs after Symbian is phased out, he replied: "No indeed, the prospects are very good, because they will first help with Symbian and then go through an extensive retraining programme so they can support Windows Phone as well as other mobile activities around the world."

Also on the plus side of this arrangement, he argued that the partnership with Accenture is "encouraging the diversification of the Finnish technology sector, because all of a sudden there'll be another large global player that will have a significant R&D presence here in Finland."

Regarding the some 1,400 employees who will lose their jobs outright, the CEO expressed regret and hope.

"The fact that we've had to make these decisions is sad. At the same time, we believe that by setting a new strategy and vision for the company we'll provide a great deal of future and hope for a much larger group of people," he asserted.

1st Windows Phone in Q4?

As to the future, Elop kept his cards close to his chest, saying that "Q2 is a challenge but we see some different results after that."

He hinted that the first fruits of the Nokia-Microsoft marriage could be on the market in time for Christmas sales.

"The year 2012 is when we'll see a portfolio of [Windows Phone] products shipping in volume. The pressure is on all of us, myself included, to have those first devices this year but we haven't announced a specific date yet," he said.

"Our pattern now is to announce launch dates of products very close to availability. In the past, there have been longer lead times and that hasn't always worked out. It is possible [that we'll] see the first new phone in the last quarter of this year."

Sources: YLE

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