BlackBerry Makes Big Job Cuts

BlackBerry Ltd. Unveils The Square-Screened Passport Smartphone
John Chen, chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd., speaks on a Passport smartphone during a Bloomberg Television interview at a product announcement in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014.
Photograph by Hannah Yoon — Bloomberg/Getty Images

BlackBerry has laid off 35% of the workforce at its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, according to technology news site MobileSyrup. The same report says BlackBerry also cut 75 employees from its Sunrise, Fl. office.

The cuts at the company’s headquarters were first reported to impact nearly 1,000 employees, most of which were part of the company’s BlackBerry 10 and devices division according to the report.

However, a BlackBerry representative provided the following statement to Fortune, claiming the actual number was much lower:

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce. This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business. As a result, approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida. It also means that BlackBerry is actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth. For those employees that have recently left the company, we know that they have worked hard on behalf of our company and we are grateful for their commitment and contributions.”

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BlackBerry’s handset business is in a transition to Google’s Android operating system, moving the company away from the its proprietary version, BlackBerry 10.

CEO John Chen has repeatedly said the company would continue to support BlackBerry 10 through regular updates and security improvements, but news of today’s cuts leave little hope that the platform has much life left.

For more on Android watch our video.

In November, BlackBerry introduced its first Android-powered smartphone, the Priv. Featuring a slide-out BlackBerry keyboard, the phone includes a physical keyboard and access to Android apps.

At the CES technology show last month, Chen told CNET the company plans to focus on Android handsets in 2016. He promised the company would release one—and possibly two—BlackBerry handsets running Google’s Android OS this year.

For more read BlackBerry’s First Android Smartphone Is a Mixed Bag

Chen’s goal is to return its devices division to profitability in 2016, and perhaps break even financially during the current quarter. One way to ensure that happens is to cut expenses.

A separate report from MobileSyrup says longtime BlackBerry employee, Gary Klassen, has also left the company. Klassen is credited with creating BlackBerry’s messaging service, BBM and had been with the company for nearly 16 years.

This post was updated at 3:41 p.m. with an updated statement from BlackBerry to clarify the number of employees let go.

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