BlackBerry lays off 250 new product testing staff

BlackBerry has laid off 2 percent of its workforce, all at a facility in Canada

Blackberry is laying off 250 employees, or around 2 percent of its workforce, at its new product testing facility, the company said on Friday.

"These employees were part of the New Product Testing Facility, a department that supports BlackBerry's manufacturing and R&D efforts," BlackBerry said in an emailed statement. The employees, all working in Waterloo, Canada, were informed of their termination on Tuesday, the company said

"This is part of the next stage of our turnaround plan to increase efficiencies and scale our company correctly for new opportunities in mobile computing. We will be as transparent as possible as those plans evolve," the company said.

Although BlackBerry reported a 9 percent year-on-year rise in revenue for its most recent fiscal quarter, ended June 1, the company is struggling to maintain profitability, reporting an US$84 million loss for the period. The company disappointed analysts with sales figures for its Z10 and Q10 smartphones running the new BlackBerry OS 10. It sold 6.8 million smartphones in that fiscal quarter, almost a million fewer than analysts had expected. In the course of year it saw its smartphone market share more than halved, from 6.4 percent in the first calendar quarter of 2012 to 2.9 percent a year later.

The latest staff cuts are minor compared to those BlackBerry has made in recent years. In 2011 it laid of 2,000 staff, or a little more than 10 percent of its workforce at the time, leaving it with 17,000 staff.

Then in June 2012 it said it would lay off approximately 5,000 employees by March this year. The layoffs were part of the company's Cost Optimization and Resource Efficiency program that focused on delivering annual operational savings of at least $1 billion. By March it had slimmed down to around 12,700 employees.

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