Now that Nokia is betting heavily on Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile operating system under the leadership of former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop, the Finnish mobile giant isn’t going to need the hordes of engineers it had working on its efforts with Symbian and MeeGo. Industry watchers have expected the company to begin announcing job cuts, and now Nokia has signaled when the hammer will begin to fall: the company has informed staff representatives that layoff and job cut talks will start at the end of April.
Although late April might seem a rather sluggish response to a major strategic shift the company announced in mid-February, there are a few important reasons for the delay. First and foremost is probably that Microsoft and Nokia are still negotiating the precise terms of their partnership: despite all the hype, the deal is not yet done, and it would be foolish for Nokia to start jettisoning employees when it doesn’t have the Microsoft deal locked into place.
Another factor could be the Finnish general election scheduled for April 17: announcements of major layoffs at Nokia, one of Finland’s largest companies, could play into the hand of the True Finns party, a populist euro-skeptic party that launched in 1995 and now, by some estimates, is now the second or third largest political party in the country. Nokia has historically been fairly closely allied with Finland’s Center Party, with former party leader Esko Aho occupying a chair on the company’s board of directors.
Nokia has indicated it expects its global transition to the Windows Phone platform for take 18 months to two years.