Canadian mobile handset giant BlackBerry has reported it will lay off an as-yet unspecified number of workers in offices around the world, continuing a remarkable fall for a company that once led the field in smartphone technology.
The move has given yet more steam to rumors that have been circling since early this year surrounding a possible takeover from one of either Korean electronics titans Samsung or American powerhouse Microsoft.
Critics have said that BlackBerry has been on the slide ever since the likes of Apple, Samsung and LG entered the smartphone market, and slammed the Canadian company's latest efforts to transform itself into a software specialist as being too little, too late.
Earlier this year, BlackBerry India MD Sunil Lalvani claimed that the company was “cash flow positive" and that it had US$3.27 billion in cash and investments, and stated, "We are acquiring companies focused on certain industry segments and our core strengths, typically in the enterprise segment.”
BlackBerry also reported a return to profitability in the period December 2014 to February 2015, but industry insiders say that the latest round of job cuts may be an indication that BlackBerry is readying itself for a takeover.
Samsung was considered one of the frontrunners in any takeover race, despite claiming in January that Blackberry takeover reports were "totally groundless, and claiming it had "no interest in buying BlackBerry."
However, in March, a high-ranking Samsung Europe official told reporters, "I think you'll continue to see a rich roadmap with BlackBerry."
Reports from various media sources, including Taiwanese outlet Digitimes, are now circulating suggesting that Microsoft may too be preparing a bid for BlackBerry, with Chinese companies such as Xiaomi Technology, Lenovo and Huawei also said to be interested.
Earlier this month, BlackBerry's CEO John Chen admitted that the company had been through "deep, deep trouble" and admitted that the company's reputation had "not yet recovered."
Last month, several media outlets reported that BlackBerry's European operations may be in danger after the company alleged entered a consultation period with a view to closing down its operations in Sweden, with a possible 400-plus jobs set to be axed.
News outlets also hinted that sales could be flagging even in India, one of the few remaining BlackBerry strongholds, with IndiaToday reporting last month, "India is a hot market for smartphones but BlackBerry has fallen behind."
Meanwhile a book by the former CEO of Blackberry's parent company RIM, entitled Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, will be released on May 26, expecting to add yet more to the company's many woes.
The company famously dispensed with 4,500 jobs (equivalent to 40 percent of its workforce) in 2013 after it had revealed a hefty loss in earnings.
By Timothy Daniel