Blackberry Cuts Canadian Jobs as Struggles Continue

by Jeff Wiener on July 26, 2013

It was a bleak prediction made several weeks ago, that Blackberry was poised to make additional job cuts, and it looks like the axe has fallen. Yesterday the company announced that 250 Canadian workers at a product testing facility in Waterloo, Ontario have been laid off, the cuts coming to a department that supports manufacturing and research and development.

While all layoffs are unfortunate, there are times when trimming the workforce is a necessary part of business, as cutting jobs allows the company to ease the financial burden as it affects the changes necessary to reverse its flagging fortunes.

But although Blackberry claims to have instituted these ongoing rounds of layoffs as part of its own continuing turnaround strategy, the reality for the once great mobile giant is quite different, as the ironic necessity for these job cuts comes after a dismal first six months of 2013, a strange looking turnaround indeed.

Is it too early to say that Blackberry’s attempted turnaround strategy has failed? The company bet big on its two Blackberry 10 flagship phones, the Z10 and the Q10, with hopes that the former would take the smartphone world by storm as the latter helped maintain the company’s loyal fan base. While the Q10 has found a home among Blackberry enthusiasts, the Z10 has, for all intents and purposes, failed spectacularly, unable to find any sort of consistent consumer following.

It is this monumental failure, unfortunately, that has necessitated cutting 250 jobs from its Canadian workforce, evidence to me at least that the turnaround has failed and the company is simply battening down the hatches in order to weather several more extremely tough years before either it becomes patent fodder or simply folds.

While perhaps an overly dark prediction, what other future does anyone else honestly see? Having laid all its eggs in the Z10 basket, and now finding that basket broken, what play does Blackberry have left? Are there any other paradigm altering flagship phones in the works? And if so, will Blackberry be able to bring them to market in time to have the desired affect?

Further, the fact that these most recent cuts have come from support staff from manufacturing and R&D speaks volumes to me, as in a disturbing irony it seems that Blackberry has found a scapegoat for its struggles in 2013, but in the same sword stroke has hamstrung itself for future development.

Let me explain. Blackberry’s struggles in 2013 have come from one thing and one thing only: it built the wrong phone. The company poured all its efforts into the Z10, hoping that it would help Blackberry rebuild its brand…it didn’t. So who do we blame for this failing? Well how about manufacturing and R&D, the two departments most responsible for creating this failed phone–at least in the eye’s of a management team clearly with its head in the sand.

The irony, of course, is that unless Blackberry has committed itself to long term failure, the company’s ongoing recovery efforts will be motivated by manufacturing and R&D, departments the company has now made less effective by cutting jobs and not replacing them.

As I said before, since I doubt that Blackberry has anymore radical rebuilds up its sleeve, given the company’s continued failure and its desperate plans for deeper layoffs, the unfortunate reality is that those who have now seen their tenure at Blackberry come to an end may actually be the lucky ones, the ones able to get off the sinking ship before it pulls everyone to the bottom.

{ 2 trackbacks }

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