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

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?

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TOPICS: BlackBerry
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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.

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Topic: BlackBerry

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8 comments
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  • How can Rim Survive?

    Can anyone give me a reasoned argument as to how RIM can survive?

    RIM had (at least) four great distinguishing features: keyboard, quality hardware, BlackBerry Mail and Security. The keyboard has been disrupted by touch phones. Apple, Nokia, Samsung and HTC all make high quality phones. Apple and others have duplicated BBM's functionality. And RIM's security, while still strong, is quirky. Other have nearly caught up to it.

    RIM it trying to do a transition five years after the act. It didn't work for Palm four years. It didn't work for Windows Phone 7 two years ago. How can RIM hope to compete with another me-too product after they thrown away all their good will, market share and personnel and financial resources?

    RIM isn't just a day late and a dollar short. They're five years late and about 20 to 50 billion dollars short.
    Falkirk
    • Form vs. Function

      The keyboard hasn't been "disrupted" as RIM still has (and growing) 75 million users who prefer using one. I'd wager the majority of touch screen users have traded off functionality for the form (3+" screens). Considering I get 400+ emails day I choose a smaller screen for the functionality a keyboard provides me. And yes I have also a iPhone 4S and a Android 2.4 smartphone. Touchscreen is great for viewing content and Apps, email is painful for anything beyond short responses.

      Funny but iMessage is a joke compared to BBM. Where are groups? Shared photos? Apps intergration? iMessage is barely above SMS, the lone benefit is Apple forces it over their network to avoid SMS rates.

      Nearly caught up with RIM's BES? Does Apple or Android have their own dedicatred NOC? Backend infrastructure? Last I checked Android had a whopping 6 security API controls compared to RIM's 500+. Not one other smartphone has the level of encryption and security clearance RIM offers, but consumers don't care about these things.

      QNX is light years ahead of every mobile OS out there, why do you think the tech blogs smear it so much? iOS is aged rapidly and is in desperate need of an overhaul, Apple is clinging to the App market as without it the holes in iOS are glaring, Android has a hodgepodge mess of OS versions (similar and worse than what Windows Mobile became) They barely got ICS out and are about the release JellyBean, all while 80% of their market are using a 3 year old version.

      I'm not saying RIM doesn't have issues but technically they have the best platform, the best mobile OS and are trying hard to make developers happy. Do people really want just Apple and their restrictions? Developers are in for a rude awakening when that day comes, ask any how MacWorld is now that Apple decided they don't need to support it? Users of old Apple products? Apple's your buddy as long as you pay them yearly with upgrades.

      RIM has the pieces, can they put it together and convince people to take a look? I guess we'll see but if they can hold onto their market share they will make money in a small niche much to the media's dismay.
      MobileAdmin
  • It would take vision

    And they simply don't have any.
    no_axe_to__grind
  • If...

    If o/s 10 has a decent browser, I'll stick with BB and recommend it to my clients. If not, I'll advise them to switch to Android. RIM needs to understand that a lot of business is happening on the Internet, research, etc, and their current phones just don't cut it on the WWW.
    ITOdeed
  • Not looking good for them.

    I have a Playbook and really like it. I do not own a BB phone, however, because my university is going with Google Apps for Education, so not much need for BES in the near future.

    The main IT department is getting users off BB phones in a big way, and getting them on to iPhones & Android phones. We have 15k+ fauclty & staff.

    RIM have continued to shoot themselves in their collective feet for way too many YEARS, and their last chance at even a slight hope of staying alive independently, is BB10. If it is not released in late summer, or early fall, and does not present a BIG change in the OS...RIM are screwed.
    IT_Fella
  • Blackberry still serves in ways no one else does

    My wife is partially disabled and can't sit at a computer for very long. She uses her Blackberry for all of her computing, and while she has also tried several Android phones, she always returns to her BB because she can type almost as fast as on a larger computer or laptop without leaving her bed.

    Not everyone is like her, but there are many people who email me from their smart phones who just can't be bothered to type anything substantial. The new phones have not replaced BB--and I don't use one myself.
    cougar.b@...
  • Hmmmm

    I was told by someone who works at RIM that only new smartphones will have BB10. No backporting to older models.
    As some people know of this, they would be hesitant on buying a BB [why use an old OS, right?] and will jump elsewhere. It was the same when Apple announced they were dumping the PowerPC CPU in favor of the Intel CPU. Mac users knew the life of their Mac was finite. So unless absolutely needed, why bother. wait until the Intel Macs come out.
    Gisabun
  • new RIM will survive after layoff

    RIM has strange culture and self distruct political environment.

    In RIM if a new hired person figure out major problem and introduce efficient approach, both manager and his buddy group member will proof their wrong approach works. just like someone point out driving a car is right way, pushing a car is wrong way, then both manager and his buddy group member will hate you, and proof that 3 person can also move the car by pushing it. cheating email will be sent to some vice president, saying like: see, the car moving, pushing a car is a natural part of the process, in order to deny new hired contribution of introducing skill of drive a car, they have to deny merit of driving a car.

    It is very strange company culture and strange company political environment, it promote stealing and cheating skill. RIM's management may be a typical instance in MBA course.

    This culture deny or steal hardworking team members' contribution/innovation, generate strange political environment, destroy RIM.

    with this culture, the more layoff, the more pretender left.
    after lay off 10K employee, RIM will figure out all the pretenders, let them stay in old RIM, and new RIM survive.
    with that much money, Heins can running 3 new RIM, trust me, RIM lack of good manger, they have lot of money and excellent engineers. but they also have a lot of pretenders. (they also have manager hired from other company, they are good)
    minzhu