Microsoft job cut of 4700 employees means exit from smartphone business?

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Microsoft has announced more job cuts are on the anvil as the company struggles to come to terms with its loss-making, market share losing mobile hardware division. And as a direct fallout of that, 2,850 will be served pink slips by the middle of 2017, which comes on the back of a similar announcement made early this year that saw 1,850 people losing their jobs.

Most of those in the firing line happen to be ex-Nokia employees who had been absorbed into Microsoft post the company’s much-publicized acquisition of Nokia in 2015. That was when Steve Ballmer was at the helm of affairs at Microsoft and he dreamt of the essentially software giant emerging equally strong as a mobile device manufacturer as well.

“In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017,” the company’s 10-K filing read.

Microsoft had already earlier pruned its job force by 4,500 when it had sold off the feature phone business of Nokia.

It is no secret Microsoft has had trouble finding buyers for its Lumia range of smartphone devices. While the devices fared well from a hardware point of view, what eventually brought it down was the less than impressive software. Windows Phone platform obviously lacks a supporting ecosystem as extensive as that of Apple iOS or Google Android.

Microsoft too has sort of pulled the plug on the Windows Phone platform which it said is being worked on to make it more competitive vis-a-vis Android and iOS. And to achieve that, Microsoft is banking on what it has termed as the bridge software that will let developers affiliated to Android or iOS or both to port their existing apps to Windows 10 with minimal change to the code.

Microsoft has also made it known it is not quitting the smartphone segment but will come back after ensuring the Windows Phone platform is matured enough to wean buyers away from Android and iOS. While details have been sketchy, what has emerged is that a Surface handset is in the making which will serve to let its manufacturing partners have an idea to how best to milk the Windows 10 platform so far as smartphones are concerned. The company is hoping to replicate its Surface Pro success in the handset business while letting its OEM partners to do the actual manufacturing of handsets for the mass market.

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