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RIM lays off 2,000 employees, splits COO position

BlackBerry Playbook App

Canada’s struggling smartphone maker Research in Motion has announced it will be laying off some 2,000 employees—about 10 percent of its global workforce—as part of a broader cost-cutting plan designed to wring more value from the company in the wake of significant declines in stock price. By reducing the costs of maintaining its workforce, RIM hopes to operate more efficiently within a tighter budget—and still bring smartphones and other devices to market that will compete with tablets and smartphones running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

“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,” the company said in its statement.

Along with the layoff announcement, RIM also announced the formal retirement of chief operating officer Don Morrison, who had been on medical leave. RIM is famous for its dual-CEO leadership structure, and has now apparently decided to apply the same notion to the COO job: Thorsten Heins and Jim Rowan will take on COO duties, with Heins focusing on hardware and software engineering efforts, with Rowan focusing on manufacturing, supply chain, and repair services. RIM is also shuffling around additional responsibilities to its CIO Robin Beinfait and CTO David Yach, while appointing Patrick Spence to managing director for global sales. Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis remain in charge.

The 2,000 job cuts are roughly in line with cost reduction plans RIM outlined in its last full-year financial guidance, and will leave the company with about 17,000 employees worldwide.

RIM says employees to be laid off in North America and selected other countries will start receiving notices this week; the remainder of the workforce reductions will be rolled out at a later date. RIM says all laid off employees will receive severance packages and outplacement support.

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10 reasons why BlackBerry 10 just might save RIM from oblivion
BB10 blackberry 10

We’ve been waiting a long time for BlackBerry 10 and it’s widely perceived as the last roll of the dice for RIM. The BlackBerry brand has fallen behind the competition as iOS and Android have carved up the smartphone market between them. When we last pointed out that BlackBerry wasn’t dead yet, in the summer, the share price was languishing below $8 and it has been steadily climbing since then, almost hitting $15 as the new platform comes into sight on the horizon.
Thorsten Heins replaced co-CEOs Balsillie and Lazaridis almost exactly a year ago and he decided that the new platform would not be rushed. Despite the pressure on the company, he recognized that another poor update would make things worse. At BlackBerry World last May he said “I want this BlackBerry 10 to be perfect.”
It’s worth remembering that RIM has actually been adding subscribers in the last few months. Market share has dwindled, but the smartphone market has been growing fast enough to mask that. It was only last quarter that RIM lost subscribers for the first time, down from 80 to 79 million. The company has laid off thousands, restructured, and amassed a $2.9 billion war chest to launch the new platform. There can be no doubt that BlackBerry 10 has to succeed if RIM’s future is to be healthy, but we’ve heard enough doomsaying. Here are a few reasons why BB 10 might just surprise everyone and put RIM back in the game.
Securing the enterprise
For Fortune 500 companies and government agencies across the world BlackBerry has always been the platform of choice. RIM forgot its base with BlackBerry 7 as ill-advised and rushed attempts to court the mass market damaged the brand. The company will not make the same mistake again. The BlackBerry platform still has a solid reputation in the business world for a high level of security and reliability. BlackBerry Enterprise Server, BES, is a powerful tool for IT departments. 
RIM just reported that 1,600 companies have already signed up for BlackBerry 10 training. Prospects for BB 10 in the enterprise are bright and its biggest rivals, Android and iOS, are consumer-focused first, with businesses clocking a distant second. Windows Phone 8 could be BB 10’s only real competition in this space.
Dividing work and play
Thinking about the enterprise goes beyond secure email and enterprise apps. RIM has also included a separation between Personal and Work modes so users can switch between them at a touch. Personal mode allows you to install whatever apps or games you want and deal with personal email in an encrypted partition. Work mode is a separate partition that can be locked down by your employer. It’s a clever solution to the company subsidized smartphone and the BYOD trend. Your employer can exert some control over the Work side of your device while your Personal partition is beyond their control.
Standing out from the crowd
We’ve seen plenty of predictions about Microsoft finally hitting its stride in mobile with Windows Phone 8 and one reason you’ll see frequently being cited is that it’s different from the present incumbents, Android and iOS. That’s one of the best things about BlackBerry 10 – it’s a genuine alternative, not a weak copy. It will look familiar to Android, iOS, or WP8 users, but feel very different to use. The integration of gestures, the speed, the active frames, the general flow between apps and services; it all appears to be well-thought out and intuitive to use. It’s also important to note that BB 10 isn't missing any major feature that’s standard on Android or iOS. 
If people are bored or frustrated by Android or iOS then BB 10 could easily catch their attention as a viable alternative.
Attracting developers
RIM understands the importance of attracting developers to the platform and establishing a decent pool of apps for new BB 10 customers. There’s no way the platform is going to catch up with iOS and Android at the 700,000 plus mark, but who needs 700,000 apps? As long as the big apps are all present and correct and there’s a decent choice in BlackBerry App World customers will be happy.

At the weekend RIM was able to attract 15,000 app submissions by offering $100 for every ported app which is accepted and offered for sale in the BB 10 app store. Other incentives include the chance to win BB 10 development handsets and trips to developer conferences. RIM also set aside $10 million to offer developers with apps that exceed 100 downloads and earn at least $1,000 a guaranteed top up to $10,000. The aim is to launch with 70,000 apps and that would be unprecedented for a new platform.
A loyal fan base
Can RIM persuade the 79 million subscribers it has right now to upgrade to BB 10? Even a percentage of those customers upgrading would give the new platform a great start. Then you have to consider all the BlackBerry fans who switched to iOS and Android in the last few years. Some of them won’t be coming back, but not everyone is enamored with the market leaders. The BlackBerry name still has a lot of goodwill and if RIM can present a decent proposition with BB 10, it will tempt some customers back.
The Hub: a universal inbox
Forget about dipping in and out of multiple apps. The BlackBerry Hub is a truly universal inbox. It can suck in multiple email accounts, call history, BBM, text messages, popular third-party apps like Whats App, as well as social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. With built-in calendar functions, this is your one-stop shop for new information and it could be a real time-saver. If you fear information overload don’t worry because it’s easy to filter for the accounts you want to check.
Multitasking
Part of the reason that BB 10 flows so well is the focus on multitasking. Dropping in and out of apps to deal with notifications is a pain point for smartphone users. With BB 10, you can swipe to take a peek at your inbox without leaving the current app. If you swipe left to right you’ll see the other apps that are running in the background and you can switch quickly. Even the home screen focuses on recently used apps and you can have up to nine applications active simultaneously.
That trademark physical keyboard
There’s no doubt that touchscreens are here to stay, but some people will always prefer a physical keyboard on their smartphone and RIM make the best in the business. The quality and feel of the BlackBerry keyboard is unmatched and that will attract a niche audience to choose BB 10. The platform is said to launch with a full touchscreen phone and another touch phone with a QWERTY.
It’s also worth pointing out that RIM has worked on the touchscreen keyboard in BB 10 so it is well-spaced, accurate, offers decent predictive text, and even simultaneous multi-language support. It's already one of our favorite touch keyboards.
BBM
BlackBerry Messenger was once a killer feature for the platform and it could be set to take center stage in BB 10. The real-time chat client is going to expand on instant messaging to include voice calls over Wi-Fi. RIM has also worked on BBM Connected which is about integrating other apps like Facebook. If the rumored video chat and screen sharing functionality is thrown into the mix then BBM could be a killer feature again.
Embracing the new
There are a couple of features that signal RIM’s willingness to embrace new trends. The most notable is perhaps the camera app and something the company is calling “Timeshift.” When you take a photo you can rewind or fast forward via a dial to pick the best facial expression and a slider lets you pick the best pose to create a composite image that’s just the one you want. If it works well then it could be a great feature.

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BB 10 buzz: RIM says 1600 companies have signed up for its BlackBerry 10 training program
holster wearers rejoice blackberry 10 is actually pretty awesome main

In an effort to increase the buzz surrounding the imminent launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 handsets and mobile operating system, Research In Motion has in recent months been feeding the media with various updates about the new platform.
The marketing drive continued Wednesday with Bryan Lee – RIM’s senior enterprise accounts director – announcing that 1600 businesses in North America have signed up for the company’s recently launched BlackBerry 10 Ready Program, with over a 1000 already using it.
The training program is designed to familiarize BB10 users with the new OS and help them “discover tools, resources and special offers” so they’ll be all set when the first handsets hit the market some time next month.
Lee told Reuters he was “very enthused by the engagement and response of our customer base.” Although he declined to reveal the names of any of the companies who had signed up, Lee told Bloomberg that among them were “Fortune 500 companies, law firms, schools, universities, retailers and government agencies.” If the majority of businesses that have so far signed up fall into these categories, then it surely augurs well for the mobile maker.
RIM, once the darling of the business community with its range of BlackBerry devices, has seen a sharp decline in its North American customer base in recent years, with customers turning to competing offerings such as the iPhone and Android-powered handsets. With so many firms and government agencies dumping the BlackBerry in recent months in favor of rival handsets, last year wasn't only grim for RIM, it was downright catastrophic. BB10 is RIM’s last throw of the dice – it has to win back these contracts. or at least make some lucrative new ones, in order to survive.
“Don’t underestimate the dynamic this platform is going to create in the market,” RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said in an interview in October. The man tasked with turning around the fortunes of RIM carries a heavy weight on his shoulders, for sure. Will he, and RIM, be able to deliver?
We managed to get our hands on a near-final build of BB10 at CES last week and, while not perfect (we did say “near” final, after all), we were pretty impressed with what we saw.
RIM will unveil BB10 at a special event set to take place simultaneously in several countries on January 30.

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BlackBerry 10 app frenzy: Developers submit 15,000 BB10 apps in single weekend
developers submit 15000 bb10 apps in single weekend blackberry app world

Research In Motion is now just a couple of weeks away from unveiling its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform, a platform it hopes will grab the attention of consumers and business users alike and propel the mobile company back to success.
As it gears up for the January 30 event, it’s pulling out all the stops to get everything ready, including bolstering the number of apps offered by its BlackBerry World store. Over the weekend the company held a virtual Port-A-Thon event encouraging BlackBerry and Android developers to port their apps to the BB10 platform.
It seems like the event was a big success for RIM, with an impressive 15,000 apps submitted in just 37.5 hours. Of course, we don’t know if any of them are actually any good, or how many will be accepted into the BlackBerry World store, but surely there has to be at least some quality work in amongst so many submissions.
To focus the developers’ minds during the event, RIM offered a few incentives. For starters, it promised to pay out $100 to every approved app (20 apps max per developer), meaning it could potentially be $1.5 million down by the time it’s finished assessing them all.
On top of that, the first 200 to have between 5 and 10 apps approved will receive a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device as well as “other rewards”, the Ontario-based company said on a webpage about the Port-A-Thon event.
More than 10 app approvals gets a developer a Dev Alpha device and, for the first 10, an all-expenses-paid trip to BlackBerry Jam Europe to celebrate the launch of BlackBerry 10.
RIM’s chief marketing officer Frank Boulben told Fierce Wireless at CES last week that the new BB10 platform will launch with around 70,000 apps.
He also said at least six BB10 handsets would hit the market during this year. Though the first two phones are set to be unveiled on January 30, their exact launch date is still unknown, though RIM’s chief operating officer Kristian Tear said a couple months ago it’d be some time in February. A report over the weekend suggested the expected touchscreen model – possibly called the Z10 – may go on sale on February 28 for $800.

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