By Scott Martin, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO - Massive layoffs of thousands at BlackBerry, reported in the works, move forward the likelihood of a company sale.
BlackBerry is planning layoffs of up to 40% of its workforce by year's end, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. The move is said to affect thousands of workers across all departments.
USA TODAY could not confirm the report.
BlackBerry has failed to rejuvenate its business despite relaunching its smartphone line and software in January. The company's downward spiral last month led it to explore strategic options that include a sale. Those prospects grow more likely in the wake of whopping employee cutbacks, say analysts.
BlackBerry shares slipped 1.5% to $10.40 in trading Wednesday.
"All the signs are that the company is making itself attractive to a buyer," says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.
Troubled BlackBerry had 12,700 employees in its most recent reporting period. The smartphone maker slashed 5,000 jobs last year.
BlackBerry spokesman Nick Manning did not respond to requests for comment.
BlackBerry's accelerated sale prospects - expected as soon as November, according to the Journal - underscores an industry turned upside-down. Just ask Nokia. Microsoft snatched up Nokia for $7.2 billion this month after both had failed to jump-start their mobile businesses.
The moves highlight consolidation around Google's Android and Apple's iOS software.
BlackBerry has struggled to woo consumers with it BlackBerry 10 software that underpins its new Z10 - which sports a full touch-screen - and the Q10, with its physical keyboard.
The company recently slipped below Microsoft in worldwide sales. Fourth-ranked BlackBerry holds just 2.7% of the smartphone market compared with Microsoft Windows at 3.3%, Apple iOS at 14.2% and Google's Android with 79%, according to researcher Gartner.
"They (BlackBerry) were overtaken by Windows," says Milanesi.
On Wednesday, BlackBerry launched its Z30, a larger smartphone.