back to article BlackBerry axes 200 jobs – including a third of its HQ staff

One-time smartphone giant BlackBerry has laid off 200 of its remaining employees in a pair of cuts. The Canadian biz will eliminate 75 jobs from a manufacturing facility in Sunrise, Florida, US, and approximately 125 from its corporate headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It was earlier rumored that the company was …

  1. -tim
    FAIL

    They don't know who their potential customers are

    Blackberry, Mototola and Nokia all stuck to the concept that the mobile phone operators were their customer, not the end user until there weren't any more sales. Apple on the other hand treated the end user as their customer and took all the business away. Samsung is trying similar tactics. Blackberry made a good product and nearly everyone I know who takes security seriously has one but if they don't change their sales model soon, they won't be around next year. I expect a postmortem on the company will show their last mistake was to abandon their core OS and swap it Android. If these things are obvious to outsiders, why can't their board see it?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: They don't know who their potential customers are

      Blackberry, Mototola and Nokia all stuck to the concept that mobile phones were phones, things that their customers use to talk to other people.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @allthecool...

        You are correct for Motorola and Nokia, but I think Blackberry was the first company to truly realize that mobile phones were about more than talking. Hence the keyboard, email and BBM, which were basically afterthoughts on competing pre-iPhone smartphones.

        Unfortunately for them they were so stuck on the idea that a physical keyboard was the right path that they didn't ever consider a touch keyboard and a bigger screen until long after their fate was sealed. That's what did them in.

        I imagine now is the time I hear from a few people who hate touch keyboards and prefer the BB physical keyboards. Fine, I know you are out there. The problem is that 99% of the rest of the world disagrees with you, thus Blackberry was doomed.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      They ignored their potential customers

      "nearly everyone I know who takes security seriously has one"

      The problem is that we now know that the security advantage was just fictional. People believed that a manufacturer could somehow provide security by locking down everything. In reality we now know that manufacturers can simply be taught to put in back doors. And in many cases they will follow those orders.

      Now that by itself wouldn't be much of a problem, if your architecture is designed in a way so you could run most components all by yourself with your own code. For example you have a wide range of mail servers to choose from, and you can even write your own mail server if you are inclined to do so. Mail is comparatively simple, even if you add IMAP.

      Now for many years the Blackberry was the exact opposite. You had to run every e-mail through a Blackberry Backend server. Later they sent your e-mail passwords to their server.

      http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/BlackBerry-spaeht-Mail-Login-aus-1919718.html

      http://frank.geekheim.de/?p=2379

      So by now we know that Blackberry is in the same league, security wise, as all the other companies. They have lost that advantage. And Blackberry doesn't seem to be interested in security any more. If they were, they would release alternative firmware turning their devices into "dumb terminals" offering an open protocol (e.g. ssh/mosh/VNC) you can connect to whatever server you want without storing data locally. Having a hardware keyboard even enables you to enter passwords to unlock cryptographic keys. That would have been an actual chance for Blackberry, unfortunately they didn't take it.

      So in the end, security minded people have turned to other systems, particularly Android as they can at least get non-vendor ROMs for some phones and they have at least some chance of weeding out a bit of the trash/backdoors.

      People who just want to "access Exchange remotely" will probably look towards Windows Phone, as they can be made to believe that a Microsoft phone might interact nicely with a Microsoft server.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        MS

        "People who just want to "access Exchange remotely" will probably look towards Windows Phone, as they can be made to believe that a Microsoft phone might interact nicely with a Microsoft server"

        And if they believe that it's fine, because it's actually true, the integration is far better than via Android in my personal experience. So much so that I've now switched to WP.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS

          "So much so that I've now switched to WP."

          Microsoft are wiping the floor with BB in the enterprise device sector. They have circa 30% of the UK SME market now. WP afterall has a much better security record than BB10 - and the main reason people purchased BBs was security.. Also Microsoft MDM solutions are being widely deployed - which also heavily impacts BB..

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: MS

            Microsoft MDM solutions are being widely deployed

            Seriously? Suicide much?

            Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. During the last sales presentation it was "work in progress". Probably still will be 5 years from now.

            The usual Microsoft trick of rushing something half-baked / barely working out of the door so that all the boxes in the presentation can be filled with original Microsoft-brand Microsoft stuff is tired now.

            Hey, is Azure actually useable now?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: MS

              "Seriously? Suicide much?"

              Agreed it's not a market leader yet in terms of features - but it is adequate for the vast majority of users - and it's effectively free to use if you already have SCCM deployed.

              "Hey, is Azure actually useable now?"

              Microsoft beat Amazon in cloud revenue for the last 3 quarters and the gap is growing!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Operator driven versus customer driven choice

      "Blackberry, Mototola and Nokia all stuck to the concept that the mobile phone operators were their customer, not the end user"

      It seems a distant memory now, but when the iPhone appeared in the US it was only available with an AT&T contract.

      Wiki: iPhone History and availability

      "Cingular [aka AT&T Mobility] gave Apple the liberty to develop the iPhone's hardware and software in-house and even paid Apple a fraction of its monthly service revenue (until the iPhone 3G), in exchange for four years of exclusive US sales, until 2011."

      I myself made the leap to unlocked phones in conjunction with PAYG back in the 90s, Because my work meant working in various countries at pretty short notice, any one year minimum contract tying me down to a particular area (even within the UK) was pretty useless.

      My choice of phone then was a high-end Nokia, with a PAYG SIM card as a completely separate deal. At the time it was nigh impossible to get PAYG in the UK except with a truly crappy phone.

      In countries where PAYG was so easy to get, those high end phones eventually became hand-me-downs to grateful teenagers who weren't eligible for contracts, and a new market sector was born.

      It was obvious which sales model was going to win out in the end.

    4. neozeed

      Re: They don't know who their potential customers are

      blackberry never made a good product. That is the thing that waterloo never could get through their thick skulls. their phones were and are total shite.

      if they made good phones there wouldn't have been the iPhone reaction to their horribly antiquated design.

      The #1 problem with RIM was they were and still are based in this hokey small town of Waterloo. They have horse posts all over town for people who use horse and buggies. it is not a tech place. everyone went to either University of Waterloo, or wilfrid laurier univerity. they all had the same teachers, and they all thought the same. Everyone had this QNX fetish because, it's what their professors used in the 80's on the ICON terminals.

      They got lucky back in the day, because Microsoft couldn't seem to grasp that an email client that integrated with Exchange on Windows CE would have been a good thing. But once the market had options, and specifically options that didn't revolve around the BES server, it was bye bye RIM.

      But the Priv isn't so bad.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They don't know who their potential customers are

      "nearly everyone I know who takes security seriously has one"

      Then they went with Maldroid.

  2. Steve---d

    From the Globe article:

    "On Friday, Blackberry issued two statements, the first denied media reports that 35 per cent of its work force was being cut by describing the affected as a “small number of employees.” The second clarified further, and confirmed “approximately 200” employees were being laid off."

    So, no, not laying of 35% of its work force in Waterloo.

    If you're going to list your source, you should at least copy their info properly?

  3. RoboticRabbit

    Seems appropriate that their HQ is in Waterloo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, You've got to give them credit for bobbing around for so long against the force of the water. But even the most determined floater eventually succumbs.

      Perhaps the Canadian government should throw so more toilet paper into the bowl, and push the handle again. It will be a sad day, but Blackberry will soon join the pantheon of dead IT giants. Nokia's phone business beat them to the graveyard, the question is who will be next.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Expecting Microsoft to put in a bid in 3, 2, 1...

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          "Expecting Microsoft to put in a bid in 3, 2, 1..."

          For what reason? Even Windows Phone has a larger market share now than Blackberry!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Even Windows Phone has a larger market share now than Blackberry!"

            Wow, so Windows Phone/Mobile/etc has been in the game much longer and it's only just overtaken a now-failing platform? That's not a very bright future!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Nokia's phone business beat them to the graveyard"

        They sold that to Microsoft - it's still alive - and looking far less likely to die than Blackberry. In fact it looks like largely replacing Blackberry for corporates.

  4. saundby

    Hire Someone to Curate the Worst Crap Out of BBW

    They should take action to clean ip Blackberry World, their app shop. I usually go there to look for something first, but it's filled with apps that are not only dodgy and spammy, but pay-for. Contrariwise, on Google Play (via Snap) or the Amazon Appstore, I can get many selections that don't immediately appear to be death in a bottle, and for free.

    Couple this with poor & limited user settings (can't turn off camera shutter sound without silencing phone, can't turn off low battery audible alarm, etc.) a plain-jane Android phone would look really good if I could get a good physical keyboard on it. Hatred of soft keyboards is what brought me to Blackberry for my most recent phone.

  5. Jess

    The biggest security feature of BBOS is not being subject to the patriot act.

    BB10 is mostly a great system. Annoyingly the niggles are generally things BB6 did or did much better. My concern is they will now never fix them. I was waiting for more to be fixed before I buy a Passport. Now I shall wait for the fire sale.

    Text input - auto-correct is inferior to 6 (BB6 'shel' > 'she'l'l BB10 'shell' > 'she'll', and similar, really annoying the number of times 'Oh, hell' has gone out as 'Oh he'll') BB6 the dollar key did the local currency, BB10 it does a dollar. (It was far worse initially, there were no phonetic keyboard layouts for Cyrillic for the first few updates)

    Email client - inferior to BB6 (but it used to be unstably so, now it is usable)

    WiFi Calling - my old BB had UMA. new one doesn't.

    2G override my BB6 device could be switched to 2G only, useful in some areas . The new one is consequently unusable in certain areas.

    No timed power on/off (and alarms fail from off) unlike every other phone I have owned. (even a £60 android phablet does it).

    These (in increasing order of annoyance) were the show stoppers that prevented me getting a Passport. (The final couple mean I need to carry a second device, if I am staying away from home).

    They had been fixing them with updates, my list was several times as long when I first got the thing. My expectation is BB10 going the way of Symbian. (Pulled the plugs before all the niggles were fixed).

    I suspect unless either BB fix the worst of the BB10 niggles or the Passport becomes available for £100, I shall stick to the Q5 until it dies.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      "The biggest security feature of BBOS is not being subject to the patriot act."

      This may be hypothetically true, however do you really believe that Blackberry would put up a serious fight? Is there any indication that they ever have done so?

      We are past the point where we can just assume that companies will protect our rights. Having a secure phone, whatever that means, is not actually a business model. Not selling your data to the highest bidder might be, however companies like Blackberry would still like to get lucrative governmental contracts and not be banned in countries. Since Blackberries, like most mobile devices today, are dependent on central services, it's easy for a country to block access to those and render even smuggled in devices worthless.

      So they allow secret services to access the devices, and as we know by now, those are not contempt with accessing individual devices, they want it all.

      What we'd really need would be a device which would be secure despite being subject to the patriot act. Essentially a device that cannot be easily backdoored or bugdoored without you knowing. One solution would be to have a device that has multiple independent units. For example you would have your LTE module for Internet connectivity. That module would not have access to the rest of the system except for a high speed serial link. That way even when security problems of the LTE module were found (those are very likely to exist), you'd still be rather safe. Then you'd have a dedicated encryption processor. It would store its keys internally and prevent the rest of the system from talking with anything else but your predefined server (which you own). That processor must be auditable, for example by providing a JTAG connector which can be sealed. It's software has to be minimal. In any case the whole system needs to be rather minimalistic so it can be audited even in binary form.

      1. Jess

        Re: "The biggest security feature of BBOS is not being subject to the patriot act."

        I was referring the security of phones not on American soil.

        I do not want a foreign government to be able to legally demand access to my phone, without obtaining legal authority from my country.. (Not that it's actually a serious worry for me personally, and the country I'm in would bend over and give it anyway, I'm sure, but it's the principle, and the danger of corruption leading to industrial espionage.).

        I know they can hack it by illegal means, but that's a completely different matter.

  6. elan

    -there is a market for keyboard smartphones

    -there is a market for secure office extensions /mail/cal/messenger/payment/twitter/.../

    -there is a market for non android a/o ios devices

    -who will straighten the company up before its really to late ?

    -what holds them back to get the job done ???

    1. The Boojum

      It's probably because these markets are nowhere near big enough.

    2. Fatboy40

      Really?...don't really want to be rude but...

      # There is, but it's so small you need an electron microscope to see it.

      # Yes.

      # Umm...nope... how are that Ubuntu and Firefox phone OS getting on ? :/

      # It was too late over 5 years ago when the two CEO's thought that the Storm was the answer to the first iPhone and shareholders / the board didn't smell the coffee.

      # Everything... for example developers have left BB10, it's a ghost town. Chinese manufacturers can produce better hardware for a fraction of the cost etc...

      ... I've worked BlackBerry / RIM devices in secure environments for years, however they're now almost dead in the water. No point in using their hardware and software unless you'rein defense.

      Pretty much time to move along and stop rubber necking the fatal car crash that is BlackBerry in 2016:-(

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tyding up the books before the inevitable.

  8. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Are they really letting go the guy who created BBM? Are they mad?

  9. Cameron Colley

    Great, thanks FAndroids and Applites.

    Thank to all those FAndroids and Applites in marketing forcing slabs of glass on us all. Thanks a fucking bunch.

    Now there are no choices left, I hope you're all happy.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Great, thanks FAndroids and Applites.

      Erm. They're not dead yet. I'd have happily bought a BlackBerry if they matched the specs of those slabs of glass. It looked promising with recent releases but they were just not quite there yet.

      1. Cameron Colley

        Re: Great, thanks FAndroids and Applites.

        @Martin Summers: True, they are not dead yet but it's not looking good.

        I honestly don't know what the specs of either are I'm one of those people who wants a mobile communications device with a keyboard. There's nothing I've seen of Android that makes me thing it's any better at email, texting, browsing and phone calls than even my old Bold.

        Perhaps that's somewhere else that Blackberry have gone wrong? Perhaps they're trying too hard to be clever and "high specification" when a decent communications device may still have a market?

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Great, thanks FAndroids and Applites.

      Supposedly it's customer choice:

      Any form-factor you want, so long as it's a huge slab.

      Mobile innovation is dead.

  10. Ali Um Bongo
    Coat

    HR Speak

    *"...As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global work force. As a result, approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida. 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..."*

    It amazing how many ways HR weasels can come up with to say "Times are hard" and "We're laying people off" without actually using those words.

    Whoever wrote that snivelling mealy-mouthed tripe ought to be "impacted" —preferably in the groin, with something sporting a steel toecap.

    [The vomit-proof one, please]

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    execute its turnaround plan

    we're on a steady course, please stay in your seats, this is not the ground you're seeing outsi

  12. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    No-market left

    The In-tune MDM is a tick-box option when using Office 365, and it manages iOS/Android/Windows.Why pay more?

  13. s. pam
    Thumb Up

    Well, they're hiring off of LinkedIN

    Just today I was looking at an opening with them and I didn't apply because of reading this story even though I desperately need work!

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