HELSINKI Nokia NOK1V.HE said its chief technology officer had taken leave of absence, and a Finnish newspaper said he was unlikely to return due to disagreements over the strategy of the struggling mobile phone company.
The Helsingin Sanomat report quoted unnamed sources as saying CTO Richard Green was unhappy with management decisions, including abandoning plans to launch phones based on the MeeGo operating system.
Nokia confirmed Green had taken leave for personal matters and declined to comment on when he would return or on other details. Henry Tirri, head of Nokia Research Center, will be the acting CTO, a spokesman said.
The move adds to a series of bad news for Nokia, which has seen its once-undisputed leadership in mobile phones challenged, losing smartphone market share to Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone and Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android devices and, at the low end, to cheaper Asian rivals.
Nokia is switching to Microsoft's Windows Phone software from its own Symbian platform later this year, as part of an overhaul of its phone business set out by Chief Executive Stephen Elop four months ago.
The company last week warned that second-quarter mobile phone sales would be substantially below a previous forecast. It also abandoned its full-year outlook, blaming tough competition in China and Europe.
"I think that this ... will confirm to the most skeptical people that Nokia can never make a turnaround," said John Strand, head of Strand Consult. "The victim here is again the shareholder."
The handset maker's equity value has halved to 17 billion euros ($24.91 billion) since the leak in February of Elop's memo comparing Nokia to a man standing on a burning oil platform. It last traded at 4.28 euros.
(Reporting by Helsinki Newsroom; Editing by Hans Peters and David Hulmes)