Nokia to Ditch U.S. Symbian Business to Focus on Windows Phone


Nokia (NYS: NOK) will stop selling both feature phones and Symbian-based smartphones in the United States and Canada as it gears up to launch its first smartphones running its platform of the future, Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone, according to the head of Nokia's U.S. subsidiary.

"When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc.," Nokia President Chris Weber said in an interview with AllThingsD. "It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn't matter what we do (elsewhere)."

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said in May that the company is committed to supporting the Symbian operating through "at least" 2016, even as it moves toward Windows Phone. Elop was likely talking about Nokia's global commitment to the legacy platform, however.

Nokia will focus on delivering carrier-subsidized devices, Weber said, a marked contrast to Nokia's existing strategy of bringing high-end devices to the U.S. market and selling them unlocked, without carrier support. He said North America will be a key market for Nokia as it looks to recapture the momentum it has lost in the smartphone race to both Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Samsung, which both passed Nokia in smartphone shipments for the first time in the second quarter. Nokia also plans to move its U.S. sales and operations to Sunnyvale, Calif., Weber said, closer to the nexus of smartphone activity generated by the likes of Apple, Google (NAS: GOOG) and Hewlett-Packard.

To back up that push, Nokia is planning its largest-ever marketing campaign. "Without getting into numbers, it is significantly larger than anything we have done in the past and the most we will invest in any market worldwide," Weber said. "They are putting their money where their mouth is."

Nokia also said it has no current plans to bring its first and only MeeGo-based smartphone, the N9, to either the U.S. or U.K. markets. The N9 was introduced with much fanfare in June, and recently leaked videos have indicated that its design has served as the template for Nokia's first Windows Phone device, dubbed "Sea Ray."

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