RIM's hub down, not out as BlackBerry maker sags, sacks

Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:23pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

WATERLOO, Ontario (Reuters) - The mood is grim in Thirsty's, the tiny blue-collar pub across from Research In Motion's low-rise block of manufacturing buildings.

Barmaid Debbie said a trio of workers came in Monday afternoon to drown their sorrows, among the first to pay the price as the BlackBerry maker trims fat to better compete with larger rivals spitting out more popular devices.

Yet in a gastro-bar a few blocks east, where white-collar RIM staff meet daily, owner Jody Palubiski shrugs off concern that RIM's belt-tightening will hurt his sales.

"As much as RIM helps add to my business, whether my business is going to survive is up to me and how dedicated I am," he said from a booth at the back of Wildcraft.

Two hundred RIM factory workers in Waterloo got marching orders on Monday, according to local media reports and residents. Others have lost jobs just outside Toronto, said an ex-employee still in touch with former colleagues.

RIM declined comment on the depth of the cull beyond what co-chiefs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie said on an earnings call last Thursday. They are the first job cuts at RIM for almost a decade, reflecting the tougher competition and a stock price that's sagged to 5-year lows.

But business and civic leaders in the region say the tech ecosystem RIM helped to build is resilient enough to withstand a period of reflection at the company.

RIM's BlackBerry was long the benchmark for a security conscious business world.   Continued...

<p>A shareholder uses their Blackberry while waiting for the Research In Motion annual meeting to begin in Waterloo, July 17, 2007. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski</p>