BlackBerry Maker Continues Cuts; Reports Suggest Company Could be Split in Two

The roller coaster ride that is life at Research in Motion (RIM) continues for the firm’s 16,500 employees. The company has cut approximately 2,000 jobs in the past week, with a major organization shakeup reportedly on the way soon.

It’s been a tough couple years for RIM, which has struggled to follow up on the success of its earlier BlackBerry smartphones, considered by many the world’s original smartphone devices. The firm has been hard-pressed to keep up with hardware advances by its main competitors, most notably Apple, leading to sliding sales.

Then there was the painful PlayBook tablet release last year. With few applications waiting in the wings, it posed no challenge to Apple’s ubiquitous iPad, which benefits from access to hundreds of thousands of apps through the iTunes Store.

Given these troubles, last year RIM laid off approximately 2,000 employees. Unfortunately, those cuts didn’t translate into increased revenue, and the dreaded pink slips have made their return. Last week RIM reportedly axed about 2,000 more workers, though it’s rumored that, this time around, the cuts won’t stop until the reductions total 5,000 or 6,000.

All in all, the cuts are designed to save RIM $1 billion in costs. As for figuring out exactly how many employees will be let go, we should know more when RIM releases its quarterly earnings report later this week.

As if the layoffs weren’t stressful enough for RIM’s remaining employees, most of whom are based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, the company is also reportedly interested in breaking into two new firms. According to a report from the UK’s The Sunday Times, one half would handle the company’s messaging network, the other its handheld production.

If that split were to occur, one half could be made available for purchase by a larger firm. The Sunday Times reports that both Amazon and Facebook represent potential buyers in that scenario.

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