BlackBerry maker RIM axes 2,000 jobs

The Canadian mobile device maker plans to lay off 10 percent of its workforce around the world this week, as it attempts to streamline its operations amid stuttering sales
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion plans to lay off around 2,000 employees as it strives to reduce costs and jump-start its mobile device business.

The redundancies — which RIM warned of in June — will see thousands of workers in the US and "certain other countries" lose their jobs this week, the company said in an announcement on Monday.

"The workforce reduction is believed to be a prudent and necessary step for the long-term success of the company, and it follows an extended period of rapid growth within the company whereby the workforce had nearly quadrupled in the last five years alone," RIM said.

In its earnings report in June, the Canadian company said the year had got off to a "challenging start", with a slowdown in sales of its smartphones and mobile devices, delays in product introductions and a lacklustre welcome for its PlayBook tablets. To deal with this, it said it would begin cutting jobs and reallocating resources to focus on specific products.

Following Monday's lay-offs, RIM said its global workforce will be at around 17,000 employees. However, it added there will be more redundancies on top of the 10 percent going this week.

"The remainder of the global workforce reductions will occur at a later date, subject to local laws and regulations," RIM said. "All impacted employees will receive severance packages and outplacement support."

The workforce reduction is believed to be a prudent and necessary step for the long-term success of the company.

The BlackBerry maker also announced several changes in senior management on Monday, including the retirement of chief operating officer Don Morrison. Morrison joined the company in 2000, charged with strengthening its international business.

"We thank Don for his outstanding service to RIM. We understand and respect his decision to retire after successfully dealing with a serious medical challenge and we wish him a quick recovery," Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-chiefs at RIM, said in a statement.

Thorsten Heins will take on "the expanded role" of chief operating officer of the product and sales divisions, the company said. All engineering roles, including hardware and software teams, are being consolidated under Thorsten.

On 30 June, a purported anonymous company insider penned an open letter to RIM calling for a more open culture and an organisational revamp of its executive structure. RIM has also recently been under pressure to split the chief executive and chairman roles, currently jointly occupied by Balsillie and Lazaridis.

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