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BlackBerry said to cut workforce by 40% as Z30 launches

BlackBerry (BBRY) is reportedly planning deep cuts in its workforce just as it launches a new smartphone and extends its popular BBM service to the iOS and Android platforms. As many as 40% of the Canadiam company’s employees will be let go, according to The Wall Street Journal, during several rounds of layoffs.

This week BlackBerry is also launching its newest touchscreen smartphone, the Z30. Taking a cue from Samsung and other Android phone makers, BlackBerry has outfitted the Z30 with a 5-inch display. Powered by Qualcomm’s 1.7 gigahertz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, the Z10 features the newest version of the BlackBerry OS, BB 10.2, as well as the largest battery ever in a BlackBerry smartphone.

The Z10, BlackBerry’s first touchscreen phone, has been a hit with users, according to research compiled by analyst John Feland of Argus Insights, but the positive user response has not translated into stronger sales. BlackBerry’s job cuts are almost certainly linked to weaker-than-expected sales of the Z10, and its keyboard cousin, the Q10.

This weekend, owners of the iPhones and Android models that outsell BlackBerries will finally get access to BlackBerry Messenger, the popular instant messaging service that lets users know when messages were received and viewed. BBM will be available in iTunes and the Google Play store, about five months after BlackBerry first announced that it was extending the service to iOS and Android.

This summer BlackBerry announced that its board is looking at strategic alternatives, so a sale of all or part of the business may be imminent. The company clearly recognizes the distinct value of its software, as evidenced by its launch of BBM for iOS and Android, as well as its development of Mobile Fusion, a mobile device management solution that is compatible with those operating systems. But it is unclear how much value potential investors or acquirers will see. Already, both BBM and Mobile Fusion face significant competition. Facebook has a messenger app that tells users when their messages were received and read, and a startup called Enterproid has launched a mobile device management solution that is similar to Mobile Fusion. It lets users maintain a secure work persona on a personal device, and works with both iOS and Android.

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Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports ( At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

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