RIM layoffs: BlackBerry 10 all in, or get out?

Summary:RIM is looking to cut between 2,000--6,000 jobs in the coming weeks, with all employees affected bar BlackBerry 10 workers. Is RIM shrinking to a 'niche' operation?

Research in Motion is reportedly poised to set off a pink-slip bomb with around 2,000---6,000 jobs to be cut in a "major restructuring".

RIM currently has in the region of 16,500 employees worldwide, pegging the layoffs at more than a third of the company.

Corporate reshuffles are a way of skimming the bugs and the junk from the beer on a hot summer's day. HP announced its last week where around 8 percent of the company will leave, and Yahoo's 2,000 job losses came only a few weeks after now-disgraced former chief executive Scott Thompson took control of the ship.

Its sole product, the BlackBerry brand --- including the smartphone range and the BlackBerry OS operating system, though not so much the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet anymore --- keeps the company afloat.

The one-minded single-focus is also what is slowly poisoning the company one day at a time, as the company continues to see its share price shaved away and its market cap tumbling more than $70 billion in three years.

One analyst reportedly suggested a ballpark figure of 5,000 employees to be cut over the next half-year in the run up to Christmas in "almost every area of the company". The sole exception would be anyone working on BlackBerry 10, the company's next-generation operating system set to be launched with a range of new smartphones.

RIM is set to release the first wave of BlackBerry 10 phones by October, sources suggest. Some have argued it's too late, while others are simply glad the company is still in business.

The company is holding everything on BlackBerry 10. RIM hasn't released a solid 'new' phone in years and has slid behind in the smartphone market in the face of Android smartphones and iPhones. Despite Windows Phone still limping in close-to last place, in a year's time it could fill the all-important third place spot.

The move could spit hot oil back in RIM's face, however. Reuters noted a source who noted: "The strategic question is: are you accelerating into a better future or shrinking to a niche operation."

The only hint so far was chief executive Thorsten Heins' comments during RIM's recent quarterly earnings. "It's clear to me substantial change is what we need;" words which resonated like thy were spoken during a presidential campaign. Reading between the lines, Heins' words could have meant anything to be honest.

Image credit: Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia.

Related:

Topics: BlackBerry

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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