Report: BlackBerry may axe up to 40% of workforce

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) may slash as much as 40 percent of its workforce by the end of the year in a bid to cut costs as it contemplates its strategic options, including a potential sale of the firm, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, came on the same day BlackBerry unveiled the Z30, its 5-inch phablet smartphone running its BlackBerry 10 software. The product unveiling and the report serve to underscore the tensions facing BlackBerry right now: The company continues to chug ahead with its plans to turn itself around using BB10 and its BlackBerry Messenger service while uncertainty hovers over the company's future.

The WSJ report said that the cuts will affect all departments and will occur in waves, likely affecting several thousand employees. BlackBerry had 12,700 employees as of this March, the last time it disclosed its total headcount.

"Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing," a BlackBerry spokesman told the Journal. The spokesman declined to comment on the 40 percent figure.

Blackberry cut 5,000 jobs in 2012 as part of the company's Cost Optimization and Resource Efficiency (CORE) program to streamline operating costs. BlackBerry posted a $646 million loss last year as its revenue fell off 40 percent, to $11 billion.

BlackBerry has tried this year to revive its fortunes with its BB10 phones, especially the Q10 with its iconic Qwerty keyboard, but in August the company said a special committee of its board had set out to explore "strategic alternatives." The Journal recently reported BlackBerry is looking to conclude a sale of the company by November. A handful of private equity firms and other potential bidders are circling BlackBerry, but interest is tepid and some buyers are expressing interest in parts of its business rather than the whole company, Reuters reported this week, citing unnamed sources.

BlackBerry sales slipped from 8 million in the second quarter of 2012 to 6.2 million in the most recent quarter, and its global market share plummeted from 5.2 percent a year ago to just 2.7 percent, according to research firm Gartner.

In a bit of bright news, BlackBerry confirmed that its BBM service will be available for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform starting Sept. 21 and for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS on Sept. 22. BBM for iOS and Android will let users communicate with BlackBerry Messenger users, and will let users share files, images, and voice notes.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this BlackBerry post
- see this The Verge article

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