Nokia is killing off its VR unit

Pablo Tucker
October 10, 2017

Nokia Technologies is to slash its workforce by nearly a third as it refocuses its efforts towards technology licensing and digital health rather than virtual reality.

On Tuesday, the Helsinki, Finland-based firm said up to 310 out of roughly 1090 employees in Nokia Technologies will be impacted, and staff levels will be reduced mainly in Finland, the U.S., and the UK. To start the process, Nokia has already invited employee representatives of Nokia Technologies in Finland to cooperation negotiations.

Nokia created the Ozo spherical camera to get into the virtual reality market without having to compete with head-mounted devices like the Oculus Rift.

Nokia describes the plan as a strategy to sharpen the focus of Nokia Technologies in regards to digital health, and accelerate growth in that market, while optimising investments in virtual reality (VR). The unit aims to halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware, while maintaining commitments to existing customers.

The Ozo offered 360-degree video and audio capture and was used in BT Sport's VR broadcast of the 2017 UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff.

Nokia launched the professional product in 2015, but VR hasn't taken off in the way Nokia hoped it would. Nokia has said that "slower than expected" sales of VR equipment have contributed to the decision.

Nokia's patent business is a successful core part of the business, and so will be left untouched, likely to the relief of investors. Nokia is planning to do this by taking full advantage of Nokia Health which was formerly known as Withings when it was acquired by Nokia in 2016.

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