- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2011

HELSINKI, FINLAND (AP) - Troubled Finnish handset maker Nokia Corp. on Thursday said its head of technology has taken a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time.

Nokia spokeswoman Paivyt Tallqvist said Chief Technology Officer Richard Green is taking time off “to attend to a personal matter,” but wouldn’t give more details.

Respected Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat quoted unnamed sources saying Green’s leave was due to his disagreement with Nokia’s decision to abandon its own next-generation smartphone software MeeGo in favor of Microsoft’s Windows software.

Green, who joined Nokia in 2010 and was responsible for hardware, software and user experiences, will be temporarily replaced by Nokia’s head of research centers, Henry Tirri.

His leave comes as Nokia is facing steep competition from competitors across several product segments. At the top end of the market it is struggling against smartphones such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Research in Motion’s Blackberry as well as Android, and on the lower end against emerging market phone makers who are dropping their prices on devices.

Last month, the company warned both sales and margins in the second quarter would be substantially below previous forecasts because of the stiffened competition climate.

CEO Stephen Elop has acknowledged Nokia has been too slow to meet the challenge and has hinted that the company would drop its cellphone prices. The company announced the strategy shift to use the Microsoft software in February.

Tallqvist on Thursday said Green’s leave won’t impact the group’s product strategy or its timeframes for new launches.

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