Nokia shuts down online stores


2 May 2011
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Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest maker of mobile phones by volume, closed the last of its 10 online stores as Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop pares parts of the company's operations.

"We are simplifying our channel structures and focusing resources on our key retail and operator partners," as well as bricks-and-mortar Nokia stores, James Etheridge, a spokesman for the Espoo, Finland-based company said by telephone. The online sales sections of Nokia websites in the US and UK bore messages directing customers to retailers and operators, including for unlocked phones in the US.

Nokia sold a business that provides email and instant messaging services marketed through phone companies to competitor Synchronica Plc for $25 million, according to a statement. Elop has already agreed to sell the development operations for Nokia's Symbian smartphone software to Accenture Plc as he shifts to Microsoft Corp's Windows Phone 7 as Nokia's main high-end platform.

"Though operator-branded mobile messaging is an offering valued by network operators, it is no longer a core business for Nokia," Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson said. "The business will continue after its planned acquisition by Synchronica."

US deployments
The messaging unit, developed from Montreal-based Oz Communications, which Nokia acquired in 2008, has 10 deployments in North America including AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. Nokia will transfer about 250 workers and contractors to Synchronica, according to the Royal Tunbridge Wells, UK-based company.

"Synchronica is the leader in emerging economies for mobile email and instant messaging software and we're combining it here with a very strong market share in North America," Chief Executive Officer Carsten Brinkschulte said in a telephone interview.

"Technical synergies are also good and we intend to create one combined product." Synchronica outbid others to get the business, he said. Nokia partner-managed online stores in countries including China, Brazil and Portugal will continue to operate normally and more will be added in some markets where online shops have been closed.

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