BlackBerry Firm to cut 2,000 Jobs

Dennis Faas's picture

A few years ago it was hard not to think of the BlackBerry when someone mentioned the word "smartphone" -- and with that came recognition of the firm responsible for developing and marketing the device, Research in Motion (or "RIM").

Flash forward a few years, and now the term 'smartphone' is much more commonplace, thanks to the introduction of Apple's iPhone and various Google Android devices. So popular are these rival products that the BlackBerry's market share has started to dwindle. For RIM, it's a troubling and frustrating trend that on Monday culminated in Monday's announcement that it will lay off 2,000 employees, representing about 10 per cent of the Canadian firm's total work force.

Once the cutbacks are complete in a few months time, approximately 17,000 employees will remain. Many critics believe that's still a massive employee total for a company whose size has expanded in leaps and bounds since 2006, but whose sales have not quite kept pace.

"Cost Optimization Process" Underway

In detailing the cutbacks, which management delicately referred to as a "cost optimization program," RIM said the changes were part of a plan to streamline operations and make the company more profitable. In practical terms this seems to mean restructuring management tasks and lumping more duties on its executives. (Source:

For example, Thosten Heins will soon take on a massive role that includes acting as chief operating officer as well as overseeing products and sales.

At the same time, Robin Benfait, who has in the past acted as CIO of BlackBerry operations, customer service, and even corporate IT functions, will now also take on enterprise business unit responsibilities. (Source:

Cuts May Be Welcome News for Some Employees

Those following RIM in recent months will note the irony of the news, since it was only a few weeks ago that an open letter by a Research in Motion employee ripped the Waterloo, Ontario-based company for its bloated work force.

Certainly there will be some particularly dedicated RIM workers who feel such cutbacks are a necessary step in the company's attempt to keep pace with its competitors.

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