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RIM lays off 2,000 employees, splits COO position

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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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