BlackBerry cuts 200 jobs in Ontario and Florida to trim costs

Fri Feb 5, 2016 7:05pm EST
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TORONTO Feb 5 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd is cutting 200 jobs at its hometown headquarters in Ontario and in Florida in order to trim costs, it said on Friday, as the smartphone maker moves to turn around its fortunes and put more emphasis on its enterprise software business.

"As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce," the company said in an emailed statement.

The company declined to comment on what percentage of its workforce is affected by the cuts. According to a filing, the company had 6,225 employees as of Feb. 28, 2015.

The layoffs will affect 75 manufacturing jobs in Sunrise, Florida, a state government website showed.

The company also confirmed that Gary Klassen is one of the people who has departed in the latest round of cuts. Klassen was one of its longest-tenured employees and the inventor of its BBM messaging service.

One source familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said many of the Canadian cuts were people working on its BB10 handset software at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters.

A spokeswoman for BlackBerry declined to comment on which divisions will be affected by the cuts, but said the company stood by its commitment to release further updates on its BB10 software.

Last September, the company laid off roughly 200 staff, who had worked on the hardware and design of the BB10 devices. The company began releasing the BB10-based devices in January 2013, but despite positive reviews the smartphones failed to win back market share from Apple Inc's iPhone, and the slew of Android-based devices that dominate the global market.

In a final attempt to revive its handset business BlackBerry released its first Android-based device in November. It has stated it plans to release at least one more Android-based phone this year.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has said he will make a decision on whether the company's handset business is viable in the financial year beginning in late February.

BlackBerry has staked its turnaround on enterprise software and more aggressively licensing its trove of patents. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Matthew Lewis)