HELSINKI (Reuters) – Nokia Oyj plans to install Linux software on just one new smartphone next year, a source told Reuters on Monday, dampening prospects of a quick makeover of the Finnish group’s struggling product line-up.
But a spokesman said the world’s biggest handset maker had no plans to sell its manufacturing plants, clarifying earlier comments by an executive in the run-up to the firm’s strategy update on Wednesday.
Nokia marketing head Anssi Vanjoki told German magazine Wirtschaftswoche the firm, which is battling falling handset prices and increased competition in smartphones, did not rule out an eventual sale of its core handset manufacturing business.
The Linux Maemo operating system is seen as key for Nokia in its rivalry with Apple Inc’s iPhone, and many analysts and industry players have been expecting the firm to roll out numerous Linux models already next year.
Nokia started to sell its first Linux phone, the top-of-the-range N900 model, this month.
The plan for one Linux phone also dampens rumors the firm would replace the Symbian operating system in its line-up.
‘FULLY COMMITTED’ TO SYMBIAN
“We remain firmly committed to Symbian as our smartphone platform of choice,” said another Nokia spokesman, adding the company does not comment on future product plans.
Nokia will hold its capital markets day on Wednesday, an event at which the firm traditionally has outlined or updated its strategy for the coming 1-2 years.
Nokia’s closest rival Samsung Electronics gave an upbeat forecast for 2009 mobile phone sales on Monday due to sharp growth in touchscreen models, but analysts warned surging volumes may not guarantee higher margins.
Commenting on the future of Nokia’s plants, the first spokesman said the logistics and manufacturing network offered “a very important competitive advantage for us, and (is) a core part of our business. We have no plans to change our business model.”
Following the Wirtschaftswoche report, the Chinese-language, Taipei-based Economic Daily on Monday cited unidentified institutional investors as saying Hon Hai, Taiwan’s biggest electronics parts maker, would be the most likely candidate for Nokia’s handset plants.
The Finnish firm has started to invest more in Internet services in recent years, seeking to counter falling handset prices and increased competition in smartphones from the likes of Apple and Blackberry-maker RIM.
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