Eurobites: Microsoft Bails Out of Tampere

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Tele2 targets IoT; Perugia gets a gigabit; Isle of Wight hits warp speed on broadband.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is to shut down its mobile device research unit in Tampere, Finland, with the loss of 1,350 jobs, Finnish website YLE reports. The US giant took possession of the Tampere plant when it bought Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s mobile phone business in 2014, but it has failed to make much headway with its Windows smartphones in the face of Android and iOS dominance, with its sales of its flagship Lumia model dropping like a stone. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it is to sell its entry-level feature phones business for $350 million to FIH, a subsidiary of Foxconn Electronics Inc. There is a suggestion that Microsoft wants to become the new BlackBerry , concentrating on the enterprise while pretty much giving up on the consumer market: CEO Satya Nadella told Reuters, "We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation." Last week Nokia surprised the industry by announcing a return to consumer devices, albeit via a convoluted licensing deal that involves multiple partners. Microsoft had already closed down the former Nokia plant in Salo in 2015. (See Microsoft Buoyed by Cloud, Surface, Burnt by Phones, Nokia Plays It Smart With Major Mobile Devices Brand Deal and Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees.)

  • Nordic operator Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) has signed an agreement with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) which it hopes will help European businesses fast-track the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) projects. Under the terms of the deal, Tele2 will provide the connectivity while IBM will bring into play its Watson IoT platform and consulting expertise. The first fruit of the collaboration is an IoT Starter Kit, which contains SIM cards and an integration into the IBM Bluemix cloud platform.

  • In a related move, Tele2 is to build a new LoRa-based IoT network for the Swedish city of Gothenburg and its environs. The network will be a collaboration between Tele2 and Talkpool, a Swedish company that is described as "an IoT ecosystem enabler."

  • Meanwhile, in warmer climes, Telecom Italia (TIM) is launching FTTH gigabit services in the Italian city of Perugia in a €10 million ($11.1 million) project. The operator says it is the first to offer such a service in the country.

  • French investigators raided Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Paris headquarters yesterday, hoping to find evidence of tax evasion, reports Reuters. In a statement, the prosecutor's office said: "The investigation aims to verify whether Google Ireland Ltd has a permanent base in France and if, by not declaring parts of its activities carried out in France, it failed its fiscal obligations, including on corporate tax and value added tax." The search giant has not made itself popular in Europe with its tax strategy -- the UK government was widely derided for reaching a settlement with Google that made it pay just £130 million ($190.8 million) in back taxes over a ten-year period. Google, of course, maintains it is complying fully with French law. (See Eurobites: EU Wants Tax Transparency From Tech Titans.)

  • Well who'd have thought it? The Isle of Wight, the time-warp geological accident just off the south coast of England that just happens to be the spiritual home of Eurobites, is now one of the best-connected areas in the UK, according to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA). The operator claims that fiber broadband is now available to 99% of households and businesses on the island, thanks to a partnership between it, the Isle of Wight Council and the UK government's Broadband Delivery UK program.

    The Isle of Wight: More connected than it looks.
    The Isle of Wight: More connected than it looks.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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