RIM layoffs imminent

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. (REUTERS)

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. (REUTERS)

Hank Daniszewski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. - Pink slips are flying at Research in Motion as the tech giant moves ahead with layoffs with the goal of saving $1 billion.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based maker of the BlackBerry has seen its share price tumble more than 70% in the past year. After posting a $518-million loss in the first quarter, the company announced it would lay off 5,000 employees, almost a third of its global workforce.

Online magazine Cantech Letter said layoff notices are going out to 3,000 RIM employees as the company attempts to complete the layoff process by the end of August.

It's also the end of the second quarter in RIM's financial year.

London, Ont.-based technology analyst Carmi Levy said he's tracking RIM employees on Facebook and Twitter who are announcing their departure in the next few weeks.

"This is the fruition of the layoffs RIM had promised. The pink slips are now flying and employees are heading out the door."

The jobs cuts are expected to come in customer service, human resources, marketing and global repair services.

RIM official would not confirm details of the layoff process but emphasized there has been no expansion to the 5,000 layoffs originally announced.

"These difficult changes are necessary as we drive a program to reduce our operating expenditure by over $1 billion," the company said in statement sent to QMI Agency.

The layoffs are not expected to affect any jobs connected to the new and long-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system, considered key to the company's future.

"Anyone associated with that project is safe... They want you to go heads down and not worry about job," Levy said.

The Cantech Letter also says BlackBerry-branded retail stores in the United States are being shut down.

The closures would affect nine airport outlets and a storefront location in Farmington Hills, Mich., and Boston.

RIM officials would only confirm the Boston location is closing and noted about 20,000 North American retail outlets continue to sell BlackBerry products in partnership with RIM in addition to online sales.

On Thursday the company also announced it's launching a new 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with built-in support for cellular networks.

RIM officials say the new PlayBook is sleeker and delivers faster online performance than the original BlackBerry PlayBook.

Levy said the lack of cellular network support was a weakness in the original PlayBook, leaving users reliant on a Wi-Fi connection.

"It's not going to save the company, but it shows that RIM isn't only focusing on BlackBerry 10 but is also updating its current products."

hank.daniszewski@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/HankatLFPress


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