Nokia to cease production of VR technology following job cuts

Mobile phone developer Nokia is to cease development of its virtual reality camera technology following the announcement of job losses at the company, according to a report from news agency Reuters.

The company, which employs people in the US and Britain as well as its native Finland, said in a statement that "the slower-than-expected development of the VR market means that Nokia Technologies plans to reduce investments and focus more on technology licensing opportunities."

The OZO camera is a 360-degree camera that costs $45,000. It is used to create high-end 3D movies and games for virtual reality headsets. Nokia was hoping that the camera would help them expand its business into digital media, following a rebirth as a telecoms company.

Overall, the change in focus means around 310 jobs will be lost across the three countries. That equates to a third of its technology division workforce. Existing customers of the OZO will continue to be supported by Nokia as it will "maintain commitments" although whether that means support for the technology or just supplying orders is unclear.

While the technology is used to develop VR experiences, it has mostly been used by TV production houses and companies like Disney rather than game developers, according to a news story from the BBC. It will be hoped that this isn’t the start of an investment bubble bursting although funds continue to pour into immersive technology companies using VR and AR.

Last month, AltspaceVR became the biggest name to suffer and shut down due to lack of investment, but were later acquired by Microsoft. Investment continues to pour into immersive technologies such as VR, including the recent investment in 3rd Eye Studios, also based in Finland.

Nokia became a part of Microsoft in a €5.4 billion acquisition in 2013 and helped to create the Windows Phone in hopes of bit becoming a gaming platform. Nokia was reopened independently, following nearly 10,000 layoffs after an impairment charge set the company back $7.6 billion. The Windows Phone also appears to be ending production according to this tweet from Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore.

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