And the herd grows thinner. According to the CBC, a trio of high-level BlackBerry executives are leaving the company less than a month after 250 employees in BlackBerry’s new product testing R&D department were fired. All told, Doug Kozak (VP of corporate IT operations), Carmine Arabia (SVP of global manufacturing and supply chain), and Graeme Whittington (VP of service operations) are making their exits, though there’s no word on whether this was a coordinated move or just an unlucky coincidence.
To hear BlackBerry tell it, the ouster of those three execs is just part of the master plan. A company statement given to the CBC noted that BlackBerry was entering the “second phase” of its long-running transition plan, and that it plans assess the company’s operations “to ensure we have the right people in the right roles.” The bluster of that statement makes it seem as though BlackBerry had an active role in pushing these folks out, but that may not be the case — Arabia’s LinkedIn page confirmed that he’s taken a position as VP of operations at Amazon’s hardware-centric Lab126, which certainly doesn’t seem like a fallback option.
CEO Thorsten Heins and his lieutenants have made no secret of the fact that BlackBerry needs to cut down on employees and assets if it wanted to stick around for the long term, which is why we’ve seen the company trim its ranks dramatically — some 5,000 jobs were slated to get the proverbial axe. And all of this is being done in hopes of building (hopefully) smarter, leaner, more responsive BlackBerry. That doesn’t just apply to the organization either: BlackBerry is honing its once-broad product lines to the point where there will only be six new devices on the market at any one time.
Of course, the issue is this transformation is taking longer than some of us had hoped, and the company isn’t exactly flourishing in the meantime. BlackBerry’s most recent earnings report saw gross revenue up 9% year over year, but even that wasn’t enough to meet analysts’ lofty expectations. Then there’s the competition to worry about — Android and iOS are easily maintaining their grip on the mobile market, and according to new figures from IDC BlackBerry is firmly behind Windows Phone (which took its sweet time to get going) in terms of market share. It may be that all these departures are for the best, but it’s honestly hard not to look at the company as a wounded beast clinging to life. More competition and more choice only benefits the consumer, though only time will tell if people believe in BlackBerry enough to give it a second wind.