BlackBerry lays off 250 product testers

By Simon Sage on 25 Jul 2013 11:35 am EDT
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BlackBerry is continuing its cost-cutting measures this week by laying off 250 product testers. Those folks in R&D were notified on Tuesday. 

We've had a few higher-level departures recently, all in the name of making BlackBerry lean and agile enough to make it through the long haul. It's a rough period for the company and the people involved, but no doubt everyone understands the current financial situation and that certain things have to be done.

I'm curious how many of these layoffs are taking place at RIM Testing Services. They've been a somewhat separate branch of the company for a long time, and are the guys in charge of sending in documentation to the FCC. If it's cheaper for BlackBerry to outsource that process elsewhere, so be it - so long as they do just as good of a job as BlackBerry would in-house.  

Topics: BBRY Devices

Reader comments

BlackBerry lays off 250 product testers

142 Comments

^ Precisely! And this will affect the bottom line from the photo-copiers to beat BlackBerry getting their products to launch date. Right now the competition is bigger, faster, and simply has a LOT more production staff and production lines - more advanced ones to quickly augment products to closely match R&D or reverse engineered products into full production line.

I cringe when I saw layoffs of "software testers". While I like my Z10, it definitely could have used more testing to make sure it operates smoothly.

The testing certainly didn't involve saying, hey this functionality or that capability that everyone else has is missing or why is there no option for this or that for a better user experience.

Whatever they did it's both sad for them and Blackberry. Welcome to Nokia style staff redundancies and business decline.

Nokia style staff redundancies and business decline...???

You are being too optimistic.

I am sorry to hear these people lost their jobs. It is obviously a difficult time for them. If they had a management group that actually knew how to manage, their jobs would be secure.

Nokia had Symbian in the house and had many testers/developers. But when they went to Microsoft/Windows Phone much of that work take place in the Microsoft. Thats one reason they reduced the staff.

You obviously have never worked in the world of IT. In IT your job is never secure, especially in corporate sectors.

At the end of the day, everyone is expendable and the only way to keep people in those seats is if you can build a strong business case, to which directly or indirectly profit can be measured or the role is niche i.e. you need a form of company presence, so that you're not allowing full control to a vendor.

Software testers...no offense, although needed is a repetitive function type of role. In most cases it's rinse, wash and repeat testing, so it's not surprising to see BlackBerry cutting these positions for other favorably option's.

Posted via CB10 using a Z10

<sarcasm>Yeah cutting software testing makes perfect sense to me - cos BBRY have a clear history of releasing perfect software with no faults<\sarcasm>

And I find your comment unhelpful and unclear... :D

I agree with the comment from "203", that they should not have highlighted "software testers" as it gives the feeling to the public that BlackBerry is focusing less on properly tested software. Whether that is true or not, is anyone's guess.

But just saying they are software testers without giving a reason gives business users (and potential customers) the ability to imagine all types of scenarios.

To play off of this... I'd say that a lot of us would do this for free to help the brand. Lost 250? You have thousands here who would die to help for free

I'd be #1 in line

Posted via CB10 on a B@stard .483 hybrid Verizon Z10

Me too, it would be even better if we got a Z10 to test the leaks on. Beats paying a salary to testers.

BlackBerry Z10 | Verizon | 10.1.0.4687

so you people would put some familys' wage earner out of work to serve your own needs and/or vanitiy??? for a phone??? testing is the last place they need to be making cuts...

Cuts are never easy but if it's to save the company then they can be warranted. Utilize your resources and network to assist you before paying others to do it. You have many people willing to work for free to do the work others are paid for.

Also, we don't know if they were hiring with the intention of only keeping them through the BB10 launch.

Work smart and save money for the future...

Posted via CB10 on a B@stard .483 hybrid Verizon Z10

People may not like to read this.
Years ago I took over as technical director of a company that was losing money. I started to investigate why there were so many people in testing. I discovered that one manager had built up quite a little empire including a former girlfriend. When I investigated what they actually did, I found that they were all duplicating work performed elsewhere. We laid them off and never noticed. When I fired the manager he told me that as a result the company would suffer some disaster and I would lose my job as a result. When I left for another company five years later, the disaster had failed to happen.
I am sure that a company the size of BlackBerry could repeat that story over and over again.

I liked reading this actually. Cause it makes sense.

Lay offs suck, there's no doubt... but who remembers when Ford laid off thousands of employees right before the auto industry took a huge hit? Now they're way better off.. better quality cars and service (Not that I'm peddling Ford... just an example.)

Trimming the fat is natural in the process to building a strong company.

Yup. Redundancy is pretty stupid. It takes balls to make deep and necessary changes, but the fat needs to be trimmed.

As much as it sucks right now, I'm sure those who were laid off will find employment elsewhere.

You might enjoy being an unpaid tester but most people have to put a roof over their head and food on the table. Besides we've been beta testers for the BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry Z10 and Q10.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

Let blackberry work people, they must know what's best who goes and who stays so let's just support them the best we can and hope for the better outcome.

Posted via CB10

Yeah well I've been doubting numerous times that statement in the last 5 years..

Posted via CB10

Maybe 10.2 is ready for release and testers aren't needed anymore??

Posted via CB10 / Z10 / 10.1.0.2014 / Playbook 16GB

By that you obviously mean,"end of the rocky road and beginning of smooth paved asphalt"!

From my sweet BB10 Neutrino powered Z10 :D

Everyone involved hates this. It maybe necessary, but it is never painless. I've seen this from both sides. If it is truly a layoff (temporary) then the people affected will quickly recover. If it is a "correct-sizing" the jobs are gone for a long time. My heart goes out to those affected. It's always personal.

Posted via CB10

The cost of doing business. If you think about business on a personal level redundancy will continue and the company will continue to lose money.

They needed the testers for developing the new OS. Now that it's in the hands of the population it doesn't need q's many testers as it did before.

JayZ10

Lol...that's funny....pass on savings to customers.....hahahahaha!

The only savings your going to see my friend is the account you open up at bank!

Any revenue acquired from outsourcing, job cuts or writing statements of work, is going straight to the bottom line so that they can show share holders that the company is profitable.

We don't have any details other then they've cut 250 employees. For all we know those people were on a 6 to 12 month SOW (Statements of Work) with no obligation from BlackBerry to renew, that would be a good case.

Posted via CB10 using a Z10

Why do you laugh at the fact that a company has to make money, and if they do they are nothing but a bunch of greedy bastards. Companies have to be profitable, they are forced to by our market structure, else they die. When they lose, all their employees lose and so does a ton of industry associated with them. BlackBerry is on survival mode, while Apple keeps piling cash so they never get in the position BlackBerry is in. BlackBerry will produce the better product going forward.

Where's my FULL BRIDGE Mr. Heins? Please return it!

The more news come in the more i remember the crucial history of palm...although I always felt bb is a totally different story. Vamos a ver.

Seems silly all this in the wake of the launch of just one phone (Z10). I would love to see the numbers after this quarter that would include the Q10 and Q5 results. But just cause of a company laying people off doesnt mean it is fated to die. Prime examples are Adelson and Wynn, they laided off thousands, not cause they needed too just cause they could their stocks fell from high $100s to under $5 but still posted record breaking profits. Concerning what I read was that the projection from Blackberry on their sales was more than they posted, but the stock market people projected a little more. Seems the company has a pretty solid grasp what is going on. I know in this area almost all the governing bodies switched to BES10 even the reservations have. . . Maybe this is just a good excuse to cut some fat from the company, you know people that possible had "entitlement" sort of jobs.

Of course this is just my two cents and I do not get to read EVERYTHING in the light of truth.

I agree with you that Blackberry was not in terrible shape before the earnings on June 28. The problem is that they did not communicate their expectations properly so it turned into a huge disappointment for the investment community.

Unfortunately "Perception dictates Reality". So now, since people believe that Blackberry sold less than they expected, the perception is that Blackberry is a dying company. And that means fewer sales....

"If it's cheaper for BlackBerry to outsource that process elsewhere, so be it"

Are you frickin' serious? Ya, more "outsourced" jobs is the answer. Less work for Canadians, higher unemployment, and gauranteed worse service. Yup, BlackBerry really has it's s**t together. What is wrong with you?

Outsources doesn't necessarily mean overseas... There are alot of 3rd party companies who'd do RF connectivity testing...

No one said "overseas".

Besides, my biggest issue is around the "cheaper" comment. There are other options to layoffs like job-sharing, offering "keep the job - take less pay" etc.

On second thought, these were likely the {Device that Shall Not Be Named} PlayBook testers - so they are redundant now anyway. Sucks for them big time.

Looks like TH is getting ready for his next "fire-sale", this time it's the company.

Dude, my comment was directly in response to your "Less work for Canadians", higher unemployment comment. No one has said the work was leaving Canada. And besides, this looks to be RF testing, like what they would do for FCC certification, so there's Canadian companies that can do that.

It's not gonna be outsourced to any company in Canada or this laid off doesn't make any economical sense.

Posted via CB10

You comment makes no sense... This move was made by Blackberry with company financials in mind. I don't know the details, but I would have to assume that paying a company a fixed amount per phone to complete testing is much less expensive (operationally) than the salary compensation of a team of RF testers.

Your comment about no possibility that this testing contract / agreement staying in Canada makes no sense. I don't know any details, but nothing would lead me to believe that a company in Canada would not be in the running for such a contract / agreement.

Successful businesses are not run on emotions. Just about every company is trying to be lean and profitable and that involves some tough choices and decisions. It is a bit of a double-edged sword as well. A successful BBRY is good for everyone - workers, the community, the economy. However, we need to consider what is required to attain success. BBRY stocks have been taking a beating because the company, though successful financially, has not been doing as well as the markets expected. What is BBRY to do in order to survive and stay viable? Tough choices, my friend. My heart goes out to the workers affected.

Yea I didn't like that either. At least he followed it with "so long as they do just as good of a job as BlackBerry would in-house." which is highly unlikely to be the case.

Posted via CB10

We've been in a global village for decades. This is the cost of doing business. Maybe the auto makers shouldn't have factories in Canada? Detroit is in pretty rough shape right now. I'm sure a lot of Americans would love for those jobs to return.

Protectionism sucks. Like it or not, the CEO and the rest of the board have a fiduciary duty to the company and its shareholders, not the employees.

Any chance these people were fired for not testing properly, which could be leading to the Verizon delay?

Posted via CB10

Very sad to hear when anyone gets let go in the current job situation. Also, it is never the top with the exception of the last few announcements that "LEAVE" that are let go.

I would hope that the testing teams that are left can do the job that this loss will add. With the need for credible apps and features it is not that simple for dev or software to add, change, implament code and know all the way down the line that nothing got stepped on. And when this happens the response time to fix or address bugs and issues is not fast. So, testers are needed especially in this market when our all consuming need is to have "IT" now.

If the management were trully held accountable for their performance regarding their product responsibility then maybe we would see some different operational practices and outcomes. IMO

I use to have a General Manager who use to say - "Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the most people." - and I believe this whole-heartedly. It's unfortunate but if BB does not cut their cost they increase the chances of not being around. It's tough for them now people; I'm sure once they regaine their footing during this transition period, they'll be able to increase their resources accordingly.

Maybe they are at a point in BB10 development where it is as good as they can afford to make it. It either "works" and they see growth and adoption of the platform. Which will give them capital for future development. Or it doesn't, and they know that there isn't enough cash for a plan "B".

Not saying we won't see any updates, just that the major testing that a new platform or major update would require are not in the budget.

I just hope all these layoffs do not cripple BlackBerry....i already get the sense that the product development cycle is really slow at the company, hence their products are slightly outdated and unpolished when released and I always feared it was due to the downsizing- or "rightsizing"- at the company. I'd imagine this will only make it worse.

Posted via CB10

I am sure that most people in the company test the product already in regards to software and whatnot. The other aspects (sound and etc) those 250 people could easily be making 100k each..bam, money saved and go and outsource.

BTW, I think some clarification is needed here. The testing these people do I assume are mostly RF testers. These tests are done for mainly FCC purpose. It's not like they are looking for Alpha or Beta testers.

Maybe the ones they let go take a lot of responsibility for the bugs that got released with the Z10. Obviously the phones software wasn't tested thoroughly enough . And enough phones pulled from production for quality control for that matter.

Posted via Z10

Anything to help the BlackBerry bottom-line right now is important, even at the expense of staff.

I doubt that the testers were of the higher pay scale, so hopefully they won't have a problem transitioning to another job.

Posted via CB10

Well hopefully most of these folks tested BBOS 7.1 and not BB10 cause BB10 still needs allot of testers to tell BlackBerry what to fix.

For the first time I'm starting to feel that BlackBerry just isn't big enough to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple. As hard as they are trying they just seem to be getting left behind by companies with much larger resources.

I mean why did Apple buy Locationary (a Toronto, Ontario based company) to help bolster their maps app and BlackBerry missed out? Same with Scalado. BlackBerry should have bought them instead of Nokia because camera software is an area that BlackBerry desperately needs to improve just to be on par with the competition.

I just don't know if BlackBerry has the resources to make BlackBerry 10 into a competitive ecosystem. for all the talk of one device that you can connect to multiple endpoints for mobile computing, BB10 doesn't even do landscape orientation. It just seems like the road is to long and BlackBerry is looking to restructure into a services only company and kill BB10 as we know it.

There is no Chance the Aristo will turn the tide and the software isn't developing fast enough as it's looking as though 10.2 will be the only major software iteration in the first year. BlackBerry just can't catch up by going slower then the competition. I get that they are developing faster then anyone else did when they started out. But Android and iOS and Windows Phone aren't just starting out anymore and BlackBerry needs to get to where those Platforms are today.

Is it possible these layoffs are part of the cost savings of only having six products in the market at one time? Best of luck to those laid off, been there myself.

Hahaha I read that headline as. BLACKBERRY LAYS OFF 250 PROTESTORS. At first glance. But that's now old news. Pinks went out yesterday.

Posted via CB10

Just because it's on the website doesn't mean they are actively filling roles or recruiting. They could very well be in a hiring freeze, and to be frank, their website updates are WAY behind the times. Think they probably laid off their web team first...

not sure how true but I read somewhere these people were associated with testing the PlayBook. if that is true then it makes sense, but hate to see it regardless

Hell ill be a product tester and you don't have to pay me just load me with all the product demo crape and I'm good to go. Really???

Posted via CB10

I hope this doesn't mean that they're going to use customers as testers.......
Anyway, this sucks for those 250 people. I hope they find a new job soon.

I think the real question needs to be what percentage of product testers have been cut. I don't find it alarming nor would I be surprised that they stockpiled testers during the development of BB10. This would seem to me normal to simply get the OS functioning.

Now that BB10 is developed I would see it as prudent to let go such testers. The OS is matured and runs smoothly. From here on out it is simply hammering out smaller updated features and tweaks. Do you need the same amount of testers when a brand new OS is being developed vs the updates that occur after the OS is developed.

Posted via CB10

Send me a phone, even if it's masked and covered in disguise tape or whatever else, and I'd love to test it and do whatever else.

It would make for an interesting class action lawsuit. BB was purposefully mismanaged to lay the foundation for a privitization.

They probably told management the next gen bb10 phones need better specs and BlackBerry didn't like that

YOU'RE FIRED!

Posted via CB10

All BBRY employees can be part of the internal OS beta program(used to also include devices, don't know if that still stands). This means they get test code drops onto their devices and use it as their daily driver, prior to the code base going gold. The OS drops have reporting functions to send diags when critical errors occur, such as an unexpected restart, etc.

Ergo, I doubt these people were OS testers.

Posted via CB10

Let's move on. This is all part of business. Why do some of you think job security exists in a work place, it doesn't. There is no such thing. Ever sign your new hire agreement? You can be termed at any time of your employment.

Thorsten should be laying off all the managers including the so called marketing guru Frank Boulben.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

People are reading way too much into this. It means nothing without more information. Sometimes layoffs are necessary, it sucks when it is you but that's life. We are not a communist system with jobs for life. My oil and gas company has gone into outsource or die mode and has a lid people off lately. You have to respond to the competition so this could very well man that BlackBerry is very serious about sticking around. I don't see where the tea leaves say that this is an unhealthy thing for them. Anyone with inside info out there?

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry now only has 5 employed testers left, at the rate they are laying off people soon they will have to move their operations to the CEO's basement.

Measuring overall performance of the company, product testers aren't those who should be sacked.

What do you think Thorsten, Frank, Kristian and Brian?

I work as a software tester for the Federal Government. Hiring and laying off software testers is normal business. You hire as you ramp up to a new release, hold on until the first upgrade is past and then pare down to the normal staffing levels needed for maintenance and support.

Changes to the software still happen, they are just more easily effected with smaller teams that have a greater knowledge base.

Times have changed and people should get used to the idea of multiple jobs AND multiple careers in their lifetime. It ain't like it used to be. But the what is?

Posted via CB10

"Product testers" is this all inclusive with software and hardware or mostly hardware side?? Like how much heat it can take or how cold it can survive???

Laying people off is a necessary evil in the corporate world no matter what business your in. Let's hope at least some of the people releasing leaks were let go. I personally am a little tired seeing people complain about their phone acting up or seeing a bad review for an app all because they have leaked software.

Sad for those families affected but the alternative is to spend money when they don't need to ultimately affecting even more families.

Keep Moving

Posted via CB10

Keep in mind that although the article mentioned 250 laid off, there is no reference as to how many product testers BlackBerry has in the first place. It is also good to see that if a company does need to trim the fat as it were then it's not just the lower end of the staff structure who are being laid off.

Posted via CB10

This is just the norm for this economy! The world economy is struggling so layoffs like this will continue.

Posted via CB10

Look for future BlackBerry phones made and tested in China. Very sad day indeed.

Posted via CB10 v1.4.2 on my Zed10 10.1.0.273 on Rogers

BlackBerry is gonna have to get bought out by somebody, it's just a matter of time. Think of what happened with Palm.

BlackBerry better make this work or more job losses to come. It's time to GET NASTY BLACKBERRY

LET'S GO!!!!!

BlackBerry Z10- I use it for a phone and a computer :)

If these testers r the ones who resulted in a unfinished facebook praise the lord they got canned bbm sucks as well i use to use it exclusively for Texting on my torch but u cannot text regular sms like before I use we chat now and don't even bother with bbm their size limits for files is lame BlackBerry is done in my books love the phone but too little too late imo

Posted via Z10

Does it not seem that this crew of 250 were working with the PlayBook? Their boss also went down with the PlayBook ship?

Posted via CB10

It's just business as usual. Business only thinks what's good for itself looking forward. Go blackberry...

Posted via CB10

I feel the product testers' pain; it's a hard time for them, we wish them all the best!

But are these the product testers who have decided to:
~HDMI input blocked when USB cable plugged into Z10 / Q10?
~No charging contacts for Q10 (and Z10)?

well since they not need to support/program for Playbook, 250 people will be on the street. Logical outcome isn't it?
btw the same thing HP did to their TouchPads but nobody got fired, and TouchPads were unlocked... WIN-WIN situation for all...

Everyday the news gets worse...best option is to split the company and form a partnership with another company...

We all know that devices like PlayBook, z10/q10 and the legacy devices by nature are buggy and require several battery pulls or resets/reboots, even the z10.

The ipad, iPhone and Android tablet I have are not as buggy and have probably been tested better and have had time to develop and mature with much more resources and thus money.

But to me, Google and Apple have mostly developed really good toys and annoying apps that keep prompting with pop ups to purchase new games, or points/coins esp. kids games...again very annoying.

But for those of us who prefer BlackBerry, we enjoy them just the same.
And as I have often repeated, these are sad times for a company that had given an alternative to using Google and Apple products.

It is especially sad for those that are laid off, trying to make due with declining resources from a company dwindling in value and interest......not convinced that Heins has what it needs to save anything
:(

Commented from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Virgin Mobile network

Posted via CB10

duboisstephan0, you couldn't have said it better. Will be hoping to step up to the Z or A10 unfortunately with another carrier unless BB and USCell merge. Yes, I am on a OS7.1 Torch and what I use it for - email, calendar, texting, some browsing, notifications is the best I have seen after trying android. My opinion of course. All I hear is apps, apps, apps. Take a look at ourselves (not you super power users) and look at what you use your phones for maybe 85% of the time - email and texting and get a life. Might save the pain in the back of your neck and walking into things. Hey you might even get to really know people face to face. Novel idea. If you really, really, really need that OMG!!! android app, most of them can be side-loaded on the new BB phones.

Will be a rocky road for BB but myself and a lot of other BB users have confidence they will succeed.
My 2 cents worth.

With things BB per management goodies are "coming" but when they arrive the reaction is "meh." How does this move bring "inspirational" products to market? It appears from the A10 specs the consensus is more more of the same, "meh."

Frank Boulben commented that he was building a world class marketing function in BB. You wouldn't know it as marketing along with the company's communication strategy could be described as aloof or non-existent.

Although I hate to hear about people losing their jobs, I don't believe we actually know what the testers did. I think we may be interpreting it to something it may not involve at all.

I believe the news release indicated the layoffs were in the area of new product testing. Testing will continue but most likely in a department labeled as "product sustaining" rather than new product development.

Posted via CB10

I am surprised they had any. Won't make any difference if they have been laid off then.

Posted on CB 10, browsing on my Z10 and typing on my Q10

Do fanboys still support this "Canadian " company headed by a german who has fired thousands of Canadians and uses Foxconn? Sounds like everything we should be against.

Posted via CB10