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Nokia sheds 7,000 jobs as Symbian support shunted to Accenture

The Finnish phone-maker will shed 7,000 jobs -- some of them moved to Accenture, which will support and develop the Symbian operating system in the future.

It's a sad day to be a Nokia employee. The Finnish phone-maker will shed 7,000 jobs following the news in February that the company would be severing ties with its tried and no-longer-trusted Symbian operating system in favour of Microsoft's Windows Phone.

Not all the jobs will be lost. Some 3,000 employees are expected to be transferred to consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture, where -- subject to the two companies reaching a final agreement -- they'll continue to develop software and provide support for the millions of Symbian phones that would otherwise be running feral across the world.

A further 4,000 employees based in Finland, Denmark and the UK will be made redundant "in phases" between the beginning and end of 2012. Seven hundred of them will be here in Britain.

"What is very disheartening is that mobile phones and their associated technology are one of the growth areas in the British economy, yet this still does not stop a successful company such as Nokia throwing people out of work," said Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite. The union said it would campaign against the job losses.

Those affected by the transfer to Accenture won't simply be limited to Nokia's home country of Finland. Staff based in China, Finland, India, the UK and the US will be transitioned, though it's not clear whether they'll be re-located in the process. The two companies are expected to reach a final agreement this summer with the transitioning process scheduled to begin at the end of 2011.

While many Nokia employees will no doubt be perturbed by these developments, both Accenture and Nokia are keen to put a positive spin on developments.

"This collaboration demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhance our Symbian offering and serve our smart phone customers," said Jo Harlow, Nokia's executive vice president for smart devices. "As we move our primary smart phone platform to Windows Phone, this transition of skilled talent to Accenture shows our commitment to provide our Symbian employees with potential new career opportunities."

Note the use of the word 'potential'. Currently, there are no guarantees the transition deal will actually go through, or that the terms offered by Accenture will be favourable to the employees being asked to switch firms.

The good news, if any can be gleaned from this episode, is that Symbian users (we're looking at you, Nokia N8 fans) won't be left in the lurch just yet. The Symbian ecosystem will, in theory at least, continue to exist despite Nokia putting its faith in Windows Phone. Just how long Accenture will bother to embrace the platform is another story altogether.

Are you affected by the Nokia cuts? Are you a worried Symbian owner? Let us know how you feel about these developments in the comments below.