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BlackBerry maker RIM set to lay off 2,000 — report

The once-strong mobile company will hand out pink slips worldwide come June 1, Canada’s Globe and Mail is reporting.

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Troubled BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is planning a major global restructuring that will include at least 2,000 layoffs worldwide, according to a report.

Canada’s Globe and Mail cites “several people close to the company” in reporting the news about the Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which, the Globe and Mail says, has about 16,500 employees globally.

The paper said the layoffs “will sweep across departments, ranging from senior positions in RIM’s legal division to human resources, finance, sales, and marketing” and that the pink slips will go out June 1, a day before RIM’s first quarter ends — if not earlier.

The report is not exactly unexpected. During a March 29 conference call, CEO Thorstein Heins said, “It’s clear to me substantial change is what we need.” RIM swung to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter amid an 80 percent plunge in BlackBerry shipments from a year ago. Apple andAndroid phones meanwhile have seen their shipments soar.

RIM shook up its leadership team during the fourth quarter, with former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigning as director, and RIM Chief Technology Officer David Yach and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, also heading for the door. In March and April, a number of other senior-level executives were also reportedly invited to leave. And this week, Head of Global Sales Patrick Spence made his exit from the company. (RIM also appointed a new chief operating officer and a new chief marketing officer this month.)

RIM laid off 2,000 workers last summer.

In an analysis piece last month, CNET’s Roger Cheng said, “RIM needs some radical changes to even have a chance at mounting a comeback.” Heins has said he’s not ruling anything out: selling assets, forming partnerships, licensing patents, or even — a worst-case scenario — selling the company. Such moves, Cheng notes, could help RIM boost revenue and profits in the short term, but its planned lineup of BlackBerry 10 smartphones— pitched as comeback devices — may not be able to compete with Android handsets and theiPhone.

Some rumors set the launch of BlackBerry 10 as early as August of this year; others say it could be October.

CNET contacted RIM for comment on the Globe and Mail report and was told the company’s offices are closed till Tuesday.

BlackBerry maker RIM set to lay off 2,000 — report

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