More layoffs at BlackBerry?
Tuesday’s headline was the innocuous shareholder approval of Research In Motion’s name change to BlackBerry, emphasizing the core brand. By Wednesday, headlines were of rumours swirling about more layoffs at the Waterloo, Ont., smart phone maker.
 
The Wall Street Journal reports that job cuts to middle management in the sales and support functions are looming, on top of the 5,000 jobs on the chopping block as announced in the last fiscal year.
 
BlackBerry representatives said they don’t comment on rumours. But the company’s year to date has been less than stellar.
 
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After months of delays, the company announced two new smart phones based on its BlackBerry 10 operating system to much fanfare in January. But in its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company reported only 2.7 million handset sales, with 6.8 million total smart phones shipped. In contrast, Mark Gerber of brokerage Detweiler Fenton estimates Apple Inc. will sell 30 million iPhones in the June quarter, and Samsung’s recently launched Galaxy S4 has shipped 20 million units, a number Samsung considers disappointing.
 
Meanwhile, CEO Thorsten Heins recently announced that BlackBerry’s tablet effort, the PlayBook, which flopped in its first incarnation, wouldn’t be re-released on the new OS, calling the user experience disappointing, and leaving BlackBerry locked out of the crucial tablet market.
 
And the company quietly fired its head of U.S. sales, Richard Piasentin, in June, citing the anemic launch of the BB10 handsets.