Nokia hands Symbian OS work and 3,000 employees to Accenture

Nokia plans to cut a further 4,000 jobs by the end of next year

Nokia will outsource its Symbian software activities to Accenture, transferring 3,000 employees to the company in the process, as it moves its focus to making phones running on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

The Finnish phone manufacturer will also close some of its research and development sites and eliminate a further 4,000 jobs by the end of next year as it seeks to cut €1 billion (US$1.4 billion) from its annual devices and services operating expenses by 2013, it said Wednesday. Most of the jobs cut will be in Denmark, Finland and the U.K.

Accenture will initially provide Nokia with software development and support services for the Symbian mobile platform, and later with software and services around the Windows Phone platform, the companies said.

The employees to be transferred to Accenture will come from Nokia units in China, Finland, India, the U.K. and the U.S. After initially providing Nokia with services related to Symbian software, they will be retrained and redeployed on other activities, the companies said.

They did not say whether Accenture will pay for the business unit -- or whether Nokia will pay Accenture to take it on.

This is not the first time that Accenture has taken up the slack in Nokia's on-again, off-again relationship with Symbian. After years as a minority owner of Symbian, the U.K. company that developed the Symbian operating system, Nokia acquired the company outright in 2008, and immediately announced its plans to make the platform open source. As Symbian fell out of favor with other phone manufacturers, though, Nokia had little need for the business unit providing them with engineering support, and sold it and its 165 staff to Accenture in October 2009. Sony Ericsson finally dropped the operating system from its product range last October.

Nokia and Accenture plan to reach a definitive agreement on the latest transfer during the third quarter, and complete the transfer of the 3,000 employees by the end of the year. Accenture currently employs 215,000 people. Nokia employed 132,427 at the end of 2010, according to its last annual report.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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Tags telecommunicationapplicationsMergers / acquisitionsPhonesaccentureMobile operating systemsmobileMobile handsetsservicespersonnelconsumer electronicsoutsourcingNokiaPhone applicationssoftwarerestructuringbusiness issues

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