Nokia announced that a new round of layoffs will affect hundreds of employees as the company increases its focus on digital health. All technologies unrelated to health and wellness are expected to be licensed to other companies.
The decision effectively kills the brand’s presence in virtual reality, which was headed by the OZO. Nokia points out it will be “optimizing investments” in the immersive technology; however, another part of the public statement reveals the end of development for new hardware. Current owners of the super-expensive OZO will still have “commitments” from Nokia.
If you’re skeptical, you’re not alone. It’s evident that Nokia has no interest in being involved in virtual reality any longer. Nokia wants to focus solely on helping people live healthier lives.
Going all-in on digital health isn’t surprising. After purchasing Withings in 2016, Nokia relaunched as a health-first brand. It now has the recognition of Nokia and the smarts of Withings to push smartwatches, scales, a thermometer, and a blood pressure monitor. In recent months, Nokia’s made decent gains in partnering with the medical community. Both consumer and business customers have embraced the products and services built by the new Nokia.
Gregory Lee, President of Nokia Technologies, said the following about the restructuring:
“Nokia Technologies is at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity.”
The Nokia employees being shown the exit are mostly located in Finland, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Nokia says negotiations for severance have already begun despite announcing the layoffs on Tuesday. The process is ongoing, so Nokia still has more employees to evaluate and inform of a decision regarding their status.
Keep in mind that Nokia-branded mobile devices aren’t involved. HMD Global, another Finnish company, picked up exclusive rights to the brand in 2016 in order to create new phones. Nokia and its digital health ecosystem are completely separate from HMD Global’s operations.