Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry could cut its workforce by up to 40 per cent by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
Ontario-based BlackBerry, which has around 12,700 employees, plans to cut jobs across the board, affecting several thousand people, the report said.
BlackBerry refused to comment on the report, and company spokesman Adam Emery said, "We will not comment on rumours and speculation. We are in the second phase of our transformation plan. Organisational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities."
The damaging report came on the same day that BlackBerry launched its new flagship smartphone, the Z30, which will compete with smartphones from Apple, Samsung and other Android-based devices.
The company, which once dominated the smartphone market, is now looking at strategic alternatives, including selling itself. (See: BlackBerry considers strategic options including sale)
If a sale does not materialise, Blackberry would look at alternatives, including, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, or other possible transactions, the company had said last month.
According to commentators, even if it tried, BlackBerry would find it hard to come up with a buyer and the funding to go private. With the company's bottom line in the red and subscribers deserting, private equity firms and other buyers might not want to step in.
The company's shares have plunged over 19 per cent this year, and its market value down to $4.8 billion, from its 2008 peak of $84 billion.
BlackBerry's openness to consider a deal comes as a radical shift in thinking for the company.
Till recently, BlackBerry, known earlier as Research in Motion, a pioneer in providing secured emails on handheld devices, had firmly pushed for staying independent, pinning its hopes on a turnaround for its latest smart phones.
Its portfolio of products, services and embedded technologies that are used by thousands of organisations and millions of consumers around the world, include the BlackBerry wireless solution, the RIM Wireless Handheld product line, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, software development tools and other software and hardware.