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Symbian moves US office to /dev/null

Home rule

Updated Symbian has closed its US office in Redwood City, CA and all but three of the staff have been made redundant. The cuts took place last month, when we were out of town.

A spokesperson for Symbian told us the office wasn't closing, but moving to a new location in Redwood City".

"There is still a US team comprising partnership management, technical consulting and new business development," said a spokesperson.

We gather that the three remaining staff are working from home.

Partnerships with US-based technology partners Texas Instruments, Intel and Qualcomm will be handled by the remaining Stateside personnel, from London, and from Beijing where Symbian wants to beef up its presence with the appointment of a business development chief.

Although there too, it sounds like home working is the preferred regimen: the job description calls for an "an entrepreneurial self-starter, initially working as the only business development person along with the Technical Marketing Manager." There's no mention of a sandwich allowance.

But the picture isn't entirely gloomy.

Although Symbian has recently made cuts in marketing and administrative personnel in London and Tokyo, the balance seems to being tilting towards R&D. The Symbian jobs page confirms that engineering vacancies are opening up in the UK and at its Ronneby facility, which did the Quartz and Pearl (now Nokia Series 60) user interfaces, and these are new positions we hear. All of which is long overdue - we always wondered why what is essentially a systems company has just 150 of its 600 plus staff devoted to engineering. Symbian founder and the consortium's most vocal evangelist Nokia claims to have 20,000 engineers.

Symbian recently rejigged its mission statement although the new strategy hasn't been fully wheeled into place just yet. It's dropped the DFRD platforms - Quartz, Crystal and Pearl - with licensees allowed to help themselves from previews of the next major OS release, codenamed Hurricane.

But where will the fall out land? Closing Redwood City, which Symbian tonight stressed isn't permanent, looks to the world like Symbian has concluded that the US wireless market is a basket case.

Quite the opposite, said a spokesperson today. The US remains strategic and of increasing importance to Symbian, she told us.

Cutting the headcount is just a funny way of showing it.

And it's odd timing given the discomfort around Microsoft's rival phone ambitions.®

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