BlackBerry stepping back from mainstream market, to lay off 4,500 staff

BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), has announced that it will be stepping back from the mainstream mobile market in an attempt to improve profitability and focus on business customers.

The manufacturer recently released an early earnings guidance in which it confirms that some 4,500 staff will be laid off in the process, with the decision being made after close to $1 billion in losses were racked up in the last three months alone.

In terms of stepping away from the consumer mobile market, BlackBerry will be stripping down its range of devices from 6 phones to just 4. With the company just revealing the 5-inch Z30, the four-device quota has now been reached in terms of BlackBerry 10 models – the others being the Z10, Q10 and Q5 – so we believe that two other models which may have been in the pipelines will be scrapped.

In BlackBerry’s words, its range will consist of two ‘high end’ models and two ‘entry-level’ ones. The Z10 will be relaunched as an entry-level phone after failing to succeed as the company’s flagship, presumably alongside the QWERTY-sporting Q5 as the second, cheaper model.

The huge losses have been attributed mainly to the poor performance of the Z10; BlackBerry’s first smartphone to carry the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and a device which was meant to rebirth the brand. Between April and June, BlackBerry sold 3.7 million phones, most of which were running the older BlackBerry 7 operating system. In contrast, Nokia sold 7.4 million phones during Q2 of this year.

CEO Thorstein Heins said that the changes will be “Difficult, but necessary… Going forward, we plan to refocus our offering on our end-to-end solution of hardware, software and services for enterprises and the productive, professional end user”.

After announcing that BBM would arrive on Android and iOS this weekend, the company also postponed the launch, blaming a fake version which arrived in the Play Store for Android devices shortly before the launch. Whether this was indeed the case or not remains to be seen, but iOS and Android users may be left waiting even longer for some cross-platform messaging action.

The company has seen a big decline in recent years after being famed for producing phones designed for the business user, with email and always in-sync features at the heart. The introduction of all-touch devices running the likes of Android, iOS and Windows Phone have certainly taken their toll on BlackBerry’s market share, but hopefully we’ve not seen the last of them just yet.