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200 BlackBerry workers laid off, BBM creator leaves

200 BlackBerry workers laid off, BBM creator leaves 

In the past few days, there have been speculations that BlackBerry could possibly cut as many as 35 per cent of its entire workforce.

However, on Thursday last week, the company filed a worker adjustment and retraining notification with the state of Florida to lay off 75 factory workers between Feb. 4 and Feb. 26, according to a report from the CBC.

BlackBerry said it will cut another 125 jobs from its Waterloo headquarters.

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,” a statement from BlackBerry said. “This means finding a new way to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business.



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While BlackBerry announced it was cutting approximately 200 workers in Canada and Florida, the company also said it will be “actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth.”

BlackBerry also confirmed that Gary Klassen, principal architect at the company and the creator of BBM, who has been with BlackBerry for 16 years, has left the company.

“The company is grateful for his many contributions during his tenure and we wish him the best in his future endeavours,” BlackBerry said in its statement.

Klassen, who would become director of architecture and innovation at BlackBerry, joined the company in 2000 as a member of its BlackBerry 950 software development team.

He is best known for writing the code for version 1.0 of BBM. Today, there are about 260 million people using BBM.

BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM) was founded by Mike Lazaridis who led the company to profitability and prominence with his co-COO Jim Balsillie.

The company introduced its first product, the Inter@ctive Pager900 in 1996. RIM dominated the enterprise mobile phone space in the early 2000s until the introduction of Apple’s iPhone.

With its fortunes tumbling, BlackBerry recruited turnaround master John Chen as new chief executive in 2013. He carried an aggressive campaign marked by a series of layoffs (which are still going on) as well as a dramatic shift in focus towards software development and opening up of the company’s mobile architecture.

2013 saw the opening up of BBM to allow which allowed it to run on competing platforms like Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

BlackBerry has released a new operating systems (BlackBerry 10) and several new products such as the BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry Leap, BlackBerry Classic, BlackBerry Passport and the latest – the BlackBerry Priv.

However, BlackBerry devices continue an uphill battle for widespread public acceptance in a very crowded market. Another huge problem for the company is the lack of developers willing to create mobile apps for its platform.

The company is reported to have shut down its Built for BlackBerry program which certifies BB10 apps.

BlackBerry posted a loss of three cents per share on revenue of $557 million, in its fiscal Q3 2016 earnings in December.

Chen is expected to make his decision this month on whether BlackBerry’s handset business is still financially viable.

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