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BlackBerry Lays Off 200 In Software And Service Transition

BlackBerry on Friday confirmed that it has laid off 'a small number of employees' at offices in Waterloo, Ontario, and Sunrise, Fla.

BlackBerry on Friday confirmed that it has laid off "a small number of employees" at its offices in Waterloo, Ontario, and Sunrise, Fla.

The layoffs come as the mobile company sharpens its focus on security software, services and Android smartphones tailored for the enterprise market.

’As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,’ the company said in a statement. ’This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business.’

[Related: Intel Partners: Possible Qualcomm-Google Venture Could Drive Innovation In Intel-Dominated Server Space]

BlackBerry revealed its layoffs in response to a report by MobileSyrup claiming that the company is cutting 35 percent of its Waterloo headquarters office, or at least 1,000 employees. The company later revealed that "approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida."

Among those leaving the company's Canadian headquarters is Gary Klassen, creator of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), a cross-platform instant messaging application.

The company has revealed cuts before, back in May, when it laid off an unspecified number of employees in its device unit.

Douglas Grosfield, founder and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, a Kitchener, Ontario-based strategic service provider, said the move could help BlackBerry as its transitions its "core strengths," including the enterprise market.

"Hardware is a commodity, and while BlackBerry had a great track record of making cool and reliable devices, the lack of focus on the software hurt them," Grosfield said. "Today's BlackBerry is very different, and the incremental changes in staffing and processes clearly highlight [CEO] John Chen's laser focus on the changing company's core strength."

BlackBerry's layoffs come months after the company introduced the security-based BlackBerry Priv, its first smartphone to run on Google's Android operating system as opposed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, by which previous smartphone renditions were powered.

BlackBerry Priv won't be the company's only smartphone to run on Android -- during an interview with the Economic Times, Damian Tay, senior director of APAC Product Management, said the phone is part of the company's transition to the Android platform.

Grosfield said that this evolution makes sense for BlackBerry as it sharpens its focus on the enterprise market.

"Android-based handsets secured by BlackBerry's DTek software provide a best-of-both-worlds solution to gain market share while staying true to the Waterloo-based company's proven track record of second-to-none security and manageability, especially in the enterprise market," he added.

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