BlackBerry to slash unspecified number of jobs in its devices business

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) said it will cut an unspecified number of jobs in its smartphone hardware and software businesses as it continues its turnaround efforts under CEO John Chen.

In a statement released late on Friday the company said it has "made the decision to consolidate our device software, hardware and applications business, impacting a number of employees around the world. We know that our employees have worked hard on behalf of our company and we are grateful for their commitment and contributions."

BlackBerry said it remains focused on "driving efficiencies across our global workforce" and that it will "reallocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business."

Chen said at the end of March that the company would achieve "sustainable profitability sometime starting" in its current fiscal year, which runs through the end of March 2016.

In its statement, BlackBerry noted that one of its priorities is making its device business profitable. At the same time, the company said it must grow software and licensing revenues. According to research firm IDC, BlackBerry commanded just 0.3 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter, a figure that has been steadily dropping the past few years.

"You will see in the coming months a significant ramping up in our customer-facing activities in sales and marketing," BlackBerry said. "We will also continue to make strategic partnerships and hires to focus on driving sales and delivering new offerings across high growth areas of our business. We continue to grow customer-facing teams around the world, and we continue to invest in bringing in new talent to support areas of strategic focus around software, enterprise, security and Internet of Things, for example. These investments will put us on the path to growth."

Although BlackBerry recently introduced a new touchscreen phone, the Leap, and has promised to release a new phone later this year with a dual-curved screen and slideout keyboard, it is determined to make software a greater part of its sales. The company reported $250 million in software revenue in its last fiscal year and Chen has said the company aims to double that to $500 million in its current fiscal year, though some analysts are skeptical the company can do so.

In January BlackBerry unveiled its IoT platform and is betting that its security heritage and technology portfolio will help it stand apart in a crowded market. The company is initially targeting the automotive and asset tracking vertical markets, but plans to expand beyond those eventually to areas like medical devices.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Re/code article

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