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BlackBerry to Cut 4,500 Jobs Just Months After Rebranding

Company to Record a Nearly Billion Dollar Write-off Amid Poor Phone Sales

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Smartphone maker BlackBerry is laying off 4,500 employees and planning to record a $930 million to $960 million write-down on its inventory due to poor sales of its new line of phones, the company said today. The company is also working with accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to evaluate the company for potential acquirers, according to Bloomberg News.

BlackBerry had 12,700 employees worldwide in March, the last time it provided a figure.

The company's woes come despite a high-profile rebrand earlier this year and large increases in marketing spending for its revamped line of smartphones.

Smartphone operating system market share, 2005-2012
Smartphone operating system market share, 2005-2012 Credit: ComScore

The company increased ad spending in U.S. measured media to $68.9 million in the first half of this year from $47.8 million in the first half of last year, a 44.2% increase, according to Kantar Media.

The company changed its name to BlackBerry, the brand on its line of mobile devices, from Research in Motion in late January, part of a publicity push as it introduced its BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system and the Q10 and Z10 smartphones. The Q10 was touted in particular for its physical keyboard, a BlackBerry staple that's been noticeably absent from devices from competitors Apple and Samsung.

The company also enlisted celebrities like singer Alicia Keys, author Neil Gaiman and filmmaker Robert Rodriguez for a campaign designed to emphasize that its phones were for creative people, not just office-bound professionals. BlackBerry ran its first Super Bowl commercial a few days later.

But the efforts appear to have failed to make a dent in the increasingly saturated high-end smartphone market.

BlackBerry said Friday that its second-quarter revenue was approximately $1.6 billion, compared with the $3.03 billion average estimate according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Just years ago, BlackBerry was, by far, the U.S. smartphone market leader. BlackBerry's mobile operating system had a 41.5% U.S. market share at its peak in Dec. 2009. That market share dwindled to just 6.4% in Dec. 2012 as Apple's iOS and Google's Android became the predominant mobile platforms. Android and iOS had respective market shares of 53.4% and 36.3% in Dec. 2012.

~ With Bloomberg News ~

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