Research in Motion, the makers of the once popular Blackberry smartphone and more recently the Blackberry Playbook tablet, has announced that it will lay off about 2,000 of its employees. A press release from the company this morning revealed the bad news. Employees that are affected in North America will be informed sometime this week, while team members in other parts of the world will be let go "at a later date". The number of employees that are affected represent about 11 percent of RIM's total workforce. Once the layoffs are complete, the company will have about 17,000 employees. The layoffs are not yet included in RIM's future financial predictions.
RIM refers to to the layoffs in the press release as a "cost optimization program", stating, "The workforce reduction is believed to be a prudent and necessary step for the long term success of the company and it follows an extended period of rapid growth within the company whereby the workforce had nearly quadrupled in the last five years alone."
Research in Motion once had a large chuck of the smartphone market thanks to the success of its Blackberry line of phones. The products were particularly popular with businesses users and travelers. However, the rise in popularity of Apple's iPhone and smartphones based on Google's Android operating system over the past couple of years have eaten into Blackberry's market share. In addition, the launch earlier this year of RIM's Playbook tablet device has been met with mixed reviews and poor sales.