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Microsoft ‘fundamentally’ restructures phone business, limits Lumia goals

In another ominous move for Windows Phone’s future, Redmond announced a further 7,800 layoffs while taking an impairment charge of $7.6 billion and deciding on a “more effective” handheld portfolio.

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Despite pompous rhetoric at the time of its $7B+ acquisition of Nokia’s struggling mobile phone business, it never seemed like Microsoft tried to turn things around for Win-powered Lumias. As in, really trying, going the extra mile to recover lost ground to Android veterans or the Cupertino-based marketing juggernaut.

Granted, the first wave of 18,000 job cuts was probably inevitable, and you can’t blame MS for being skittish of diving right into the flagship device pool. Still, a high-end Lumia release is officially long overdue, and the latest stream of mobile-related discharges spells out big trouble.

It’s perhaps a sign there’s indeed some truth to rumors of Android explorations, or maybe Satya Nadella is examining the pros and cons of his outfit’s complete retreat from the smartphone landscape, if Windows 10 Mobile flops.

One thing’s for sure – there’s a lot riding on the looming Lumia 940, 940 XL, 840 and 840 XL. The 1030? Its commercial rollout is unlikely to happen, since “a person familiar” with the company’s plans recently told Bloomberg the three categories MS wants to focus on will each see just one or two reboots per year.

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For the record, the market segments where the software specialist feels its hardware expertise might come in handy and “where we can make unique contributions” are the business niche, “value” sector and flagship class. Say good-bye to everything in between! And annoyingly derivative 430, 435, 530, 535 or 540-type budget soldiers.

From now on, the spotlight is on quality, not quantity. “Reinvention” and innovation, not diversity.

Hopefully, the $7.6 billion writedown “related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business”, as well as the $800 million or so “restructuring charge” will mark a new beginning for the streamlined Lumia product roster, not the beginning of the end.

Also, it’d be nice if the 7,800 lives ruined would be the last before a spectacular Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. We don’t dare to dream of eventual employee reenlistments, but some sense of comfort and stability will do for the time being.

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