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Microsoft is getting out of the low-end phone business once and for all

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Jeff Lusk
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It s easy to forget that Microsoft makes cheap feature phones, a quirky inheritance it received in its $9.5 billion acquisition of Finnish company Nokia in 2013, but apparently not for much longer.

As part of the arrangement, Microsoft has agreed to transfer its feature phone division s manufacturing plant in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with its 4,500 employees, to FIH.

In addition, it will grant FIH the exclusive right to use its Nokia branding, feature phone software, services, and any customer contracts and supply chain agreements it has in place.

Microsoft s feature phone has been in maintenance mode since 2014, when the company made massive reductions in both personnel and manufacturing capacity.

That s all to say that today s announcement won t drastically impact Microsoft s products domestic or abroad, at least from a customer perspective.

Following the cuts in 2014, Jo Harlow, then-head of Microsoft s handset business, indicated that investment and development of Microsoft s low-end handset lines — the Asha, Series 40, and Nokia X, among others — would slow to a trickle in the intervening 18 months and eventually cease.

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Jeff Lusk
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