BlackBerry plans deep job cuts as new phone launches: report

Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:43pm EDT
 
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd plans to slash thousands of jobs by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, just as the company launches a flagship smartphone intended to revive its fortunes.

Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the article said BlackBerry could cut up to 40 percent of its staff and the layoffs will happen across job functions and likely occur in waves.

Blackberry, which once dominated the corporate smartphone arena, has struggled in recent years to staunch loss of market share to such rivals as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The company, which previously warned that job cuts were in the offing, declined to comment on the Journal's report or the magnitude of potential layoffs. It employed 12,700 people as of March, and once had almost 20,000 employees.

"We will not comment on rumors and speculation," said BlackBerry spokesman Adam Emery. "We are in the second phase of our transformation plan. Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities."

The report comes on the same day the Canadian company introduced the "Z30," a top-of-the-line smartphone intended to help the one-time industry pioneer wrestle its way back into the intensely competitive smartphone market.

Investors have grown increasingly nervous about BlackBerry's future as its market position crumbles. The company said last month it was weighing options that could include an outright sale, in the face of persistently lackluster sales of devices that run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

"Clearly the game is over for them, though it's coming a little quicker than I expected," said Charter Equity analyst Edward Snyder. "Cutting half your staff, that's pretty much the end for them."   Continued...

 
A view shows a cracked cookie with a Blackberry logo at the Blackberry Z10 launch at a Rogers store in Toronto February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch