RIM to reduce workforce by 2,000

25 Jul 2011

Troubled smartphone maker Research in Motion is to reduce its workforce by 2,000 as part of what it calls a ‘cost optimisation’ process. As well as this, it has reshuffled its management team but the dual CEO-ship between Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie remains in place.

RIM said it intends to notify impacted employees in North America and certain other countries this week.

RIM, the company that unleashed the smartphone revolution with BlackBerry mobile email products a decade ago, has seen its market share evaporate in the last three years as Apple’s iPhone and more than 300 Android devices shake up the market.

The company has been accused by staff of refusing to forget about its glory day when it owned the market and failing to react with compelling products to compete with Google and Apple’s smartphone platforms.

In recent weeks, an anonymous employee wrote a passionate plea to the company’s co-CEOs to address problems that are eating the company from its core.

Following the cutbacks, RIM will employ 17,500 people.

Under the new management restructure, Thorsten Heins is taking on the expanded role of COO (Product and Sales). All product engineering functions, including both hardware and software teams, are being consolidated under Heins’ direction.

Patrick Spence is taking on the role of managing director, Global Sales and Regional Marketing. He will report to Heins and will work with him to tightly 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 focused on delivering outstanding customer service and extending RIM’s leadership in the enterprise sector.

David Yach, in his role as CTO, Software, 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 (Operations) and will continue to be responsible for manufacturing, global supply chain and repair services. As part of the streamlining effort and drive towards greater operational efficiencies, he will also now oversee the Organizational Development and Facilities Management functions.

Brian Bidulka, RIM’s CFO, is working together with Jim Rowan in overseeing the Cost Optimization Program, which is currently under way.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years