BlackBerry set to lay off 2000: report

Troubled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is planning a major global restructuring that will include at least 2000 layoffs worldwide, according to a report.

Canada's Globe and Mail cited "several people close to the company", as it reported the news about the Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which, the Globe and Mail said, has about 16,500 employees globally.

The paper said that the layoffs "will sweep across departments, ranging from senior positions in RIM's legal division to human resources, finance, sales and marketing", and that the pink slips will go out on 1 June, a day before RIM's first quarter ends — if not earlier.

The report is not exactly unexpected. During a 29 March conference call, CEO Thorsten Heins said, "It's clear to me; substantial change is what we need." RIM swung to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter, amid an 80 per cent plunge in BlackBerry shipments from a year ago. Apple and Android phones, meanwhile, have seen their shipments soar.

RIM shook up its leadership team during the fourth quarter, with former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigning as director, and chief technology officer David Yach and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, also heading for the door. March and April saw reports of a number of other senior-level executives being invited to leave. This week, head of Global Sales, Patrick Spence, made his exit from the company. (RIM also appointed a new chief operating officer and a new chief marketing officer this month.)

RIM laid off 2000 workers last year, too.

In an analysis piece last month, CNET's Roger Cheng said, "RIM needs some radical changes to even have a chance at mounting a comeback." Heins has said that he's not ruling anything out: selling assets, forming partnerships, licensing patents or even — a worst-case scenario — selling the company. Such moves, Cheng noted, could help RIM boost revenue and profits in the short term, but its planned line-up of BlackBerry 10 smartphones — pitched as comeback devices — may not be able to compete with Android handsets and the iPhone.

Some rumours set the launch of BlackBerry 10 as early as August of this year; others say it could be October.

RIM was contacted for comment on the Globe and Mail report, and was told that the company's offices are closed until Tuesday.


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