Tag Archives: layoffs

The Incredible Shrinking Nokia

Like one ex-colleague, I wonder what Nokia will look like when the economic dust settles.  I’m told that the last remaining Irving (Dallas, Texas area) building is experiencing a sort of settling– dwindling employees are being shuffled swiftly downward as lower office space opens up, emptying the upper floors.  My prediction of the site downsizing into a regional sales support office appears to be bearing out.  Where else is this occurring?  Offhand I don’t know… but I keep hearing that global roles are heavily impacted, which continues to confound me.  Is this really signalling a retreat back to Finland?

I still see new openings in other areas, but I remain curious about the overall picture, i.e., what is the loss-to-gain ratio?  When a company leaks employees here and there rather than laying them off wholesale, getting a picture of the headcount becomes difficult.  I’m sure that’s by design in this case.

The question is, can Nokia execute well enough or are too many key employees being let go?  The company now estimates that 2009 will see a 10% reduction in global handset sales.  One could argue that such a drop necessitates an equivalent or at least proportional cut in headcount.  But does that factor in the hoped-for area of growth, Internet services?  The slow rollout and misfires of Ovi.com suggest that the venture suffers a resource issue of some sort.  Is it fully staffed, or just running like a skunkworks project?

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Is Nokia’s Ovi sizzling or fizzling?

Some months ago I last touched on the prospects of Nokia’s relatively new internet service, Ovi.com, and recent news made me believe it is now time for a follow-up.

The first item to touch on is the revelation that Ovi will be scaled back a bit in scope.  The media sharing portion has apparently not gained enough traction in the time accrued thus far, so further development will be halted at least for the time being.  As with anything in these economically-uncertain times, it’s difficult to speculate on whether this is truly the start of a permanent drawdown in that service or perhaps just a temporary retreat.  Personally I hope Nokia does continue the service, even though I admit it’s up against some very entrenched competitors (such as the very popular Flickr).  As I opined in the previous article, there still remains quite a bit of potential in parts of the world not fully served by established providers that are popular in the US, Europe, etc.

Nokia could still gain respect and admiration (and surely users) by providing that holy grail of internet services, the single-sign on experience.  Imagine a one-stop-shop front end for all the various media services out there!  True, there would be logistical and possibly legal hurdles to clear but the prospect is exciting nonetheless.

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The jobless saga continues

I hate to sound like a one-topic writer but it has been difficult lately to move off of the unraveling economy… especially since it has impacted me in a big way already.  I also hate diverging from my usual attempts at objectivity but maybe I just need to vent a little.

I read another job loss story on CNN that got me a bit cranky this morning.  For the most part it was an all-too common tale: hard-working professionals like myself faced with big adjustments and personal loss.

But what got my ire up was the advice doled out by a clinical psychologist quoted in the article:

“Bad times pass, and it’s sometimes hard to see that when you’re in the throes of a terrible place,” she said. “I think we do need to hold onto a spirit of optimism and a sense of confidence.”

“I think we’re getting mired in the gloom and doom, and we need to hold on to the fact that lots of people are working.”

Does that snippy bit of cavalier fluff help anyone?  Sorry, Dr. Dorlen, your desk-side manner stinks.

I want to write on more upbeat themes but I am not going to insult the few readers I have with trite, insensitive remarks such as “bad times pass” and “lots of people are working”.  So by all means propose some topics.  Send me something you would like covered– I’ll research, synthesize, analyze and write it up.  Then we’ll discuss the heck out of it.  If nothing else I can use the practice while continuing a discouraging job search…

A surplus of nonexistant workers?

Many years ago I worked in the US defense industry, in an engineering capacity.  In the mid 1990s that work declined significantly due to lack of Soviet-scale threats and I bounced around a bit before landing in consumer hand tools.  Competition for engineering positions was fierce at the time, due to so many former highly-skilled defense workers on the job market.

Simultaneously, corporate leaders were lobbying Congress for reform of H1-B visa rules.  The goal was to increase quotas of guest workers.  The argument was that there were not enough qualified native candidates, especially in IT.  Readers may recall that correcting potential “Y2K bugs” (a very real problem at the time) drove massive demand for data managers and coders.

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Theory of relative pain

There is nothing like being laid off of work to make one really appreciate steady income.  I had gotten too used to a budget on autopilot, one that just worked, and since my position at Nokia was eliminated I am questioning the little purchases that used to be reflex.  “Can I have a bag of donut holes, Dad?”  Depending on behavioral trend, that used to be an easy “yes”.   Now I have to consider the larger scenario: Donut holes, about $3 per bag.  Uninsured visits to the dentist: priceless.

So I am not sure if I am relieved or discouraged to read that millionaires in the United States are suffering, too.  After a few years creating more than ever, our fickle economy has now stripped many of up to one-third their worth.

On one hand it is easy to dismiss their situation– so someone’s net worth declined from a cool one million or so dollars to a cold $700,000.  Yawn.  Let me know when they lose a little more.

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The tide is leveling; why aren’t the boats?

It’s said that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  That cute expression became a knee-jerk mantra for many US economists in the 1980s and correlated well with equally popular trickle-down euphemisms.  The prevailing wisdom was, of course, that tax breaks for the wealthy enabled them to invest more which would surely help the lower classes.  And indeed, it appeared to work… for a while.

Something happened on the way to that Utopian sea of rising yachts and junks.  Deregulation and lax oversight allowed national corporations to become multinationals.  This, too, was seemingly good… except that any multinational corporation could– and many did— lose allegiance to the very regions and people that enabled it to catch the high waves in the first place.  Reincorporations in tax havens like Bermuda became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Ostensibly to enhance shareholder value (another common claim), such moves also served to further distance corporations from their roots… and undermine the communities in which those corporations once anchored.  Ironically, many of those communities had established tax abatement zones to entice some of those entities, and with the loss of business they of course suffered afterward.

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Will work for kudos

Those who follow my nonsense on jaiku and Internet Tablet Talk are aware that my global role with Nokia was… well… deglobalized.  I’m still scratching my head over this supposed non-headcount-reduction (and can’t reveal much in the way of details) that in my case did amount to one less head in the halls of Nokia.

I’ve definitely applied for other internal positions (I have a month left at this writing) in the faint hope that I still have a shot of staying with a great company.  But I’m also preparing for other possibilities and probabilities, ranging from taking the first paying opportunity that falls in my lap to bracing myself for another long stretch of unemployment in a rank economy (the last such stretch lasted 9 months!).

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