BlackBerry-Maker RIM Cuts 2,000 Jobs, Outlines Cost Optimization Plan

The company announced it is cutting 2,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce, as part of a cost optimization program.

Beleaguered BlackBerry smartphone manufacturer Research In Motion announced major layoffs as part of the company's "cost optimization" program. RIM plans to cut 2,000 jobs, or about 11 percent of its workforce, to bring the company size down to 17,000. The company said the job cuts are part of an effort focused on eliminating redundancies and reallocating resources to focus on areas that offer the highest growth opportunities and alignment with RIM's strategic objectives.

RIM officials said they intend to notify impacted employees in North America and some other regions this week. The remainder of the global workforce reductions will occur at a later date subject to local laws and regulations, according to a company release, and all impacted employees will receive severance packages and outplacement support. RIM intends to notify impacted employees in North America and certain other countries this week.

The company release outlining the cuts said the size of this workforce reduction is in line with the preliminary estimate that was factored into RIM's full-year financial guidance announced June 16. Additional information about the financial impact of this workforce reduction and other operating expense reductions will be communicated when the company reports fiscal second-quarter results Sept. 15. As company officials explained June 16, any one-time charges associated with the cost optimization program are not included in the company's second-quarter and full-year outlook, but will be identified and disclosed on Sept. 15.

RIM also provided an update on changes in responsibilities amongst the company's senior management team. Thorsten Heins is taking on the expanded role of COO of product and sales. All product engineering functions, including both hardware and software teams, are being consolidated under Heins' direction. The company said this consolidation of product engineering functions is expected to both produce greater efficiencies and help to accelerate new product introductions in the future.

After more than 10 years of overseeing sales and country operations for RIM in various regions including North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA most recently, Patrick Spence is taking on the role of managing director of global sales and regional marketing. Spence will report to Heins and will work with him to couple the execution of product development and regional business operations around the world.

Robin Bienfait is maintaining her responsibilities as CIO, including BlackBerry operations, customer service and corporate IT functions, and also taking on responsibility for the enterprise business unit. David Yach, in his role as chief technology office for RIM's software division, will focus on current and future software platforms, as well as the surrounding developer and application ecosystem.

Jim Rowan is taking on the expanded role of COO of operations and will continue to be responsible for manufacturing, global supply chain and repair services. As part of the streamlining effort and drive toward greater operational efficiencies, he will also now oversee the organizational development and facilities management functions. Brian Bidulka, RIM's CFO, is working together with Rowan in overseeing the Cost Optimization Program, which is currently underway, the company explained in a release.