Yesterday we saw several websites report on job cuts in BlackBerry’s sales force. The initial source of the story was Nick Waddell’s Cantech Letter. His source described the consumer sales force as being basically “gone” and the enterprise sales team as “gutted”. The source clearly believed that half of BlackBerry’s sales force had been wiped out.

Obviously we have to take this kind of information with a grain of salt because it’s coming from one person inside of the company. To be fair, Waddell only reported on what the source said and didn’t do what so many other people do ... and that is to make it sound like there are multiple sources by pluralizing everything. We don’t believe Cantech Letter in any way intended to convey wrong information.

Still - the damage was done. Several major websites ran versions of this same story and it took until today for BlackBerry to respond with clarification.

Here’s the statement BlackBerry provided:

“I’d like to clarify that we are moving a small number of US-focused sales roles that were based in Canada to the U.S. to be more closely aligned with our customers. As a result, approximately 60 employees have been impacted, primarily in sales.

As previously stated, we are in the second phase of our transformation plan. As part of this transformation, BlackBerry will continually evaluate its organization – from top to bottom – to ensure we have the right people, with the right skills in the right locations to drive new opportunities in mobile computing.”

The story that ran yesterday was either going to be true or untrue ... obviously. And if it was true, it could easily signal that the company was going to exit the smartphone business altogether. So it is pretty darn important to set the record straight. It took too long, but at least now we know the strategy they’re implementing makes sense.

For a while now I and others on the CrackBerry team have been aware of the company’s plans to move US sales coverage to the States. It has always been based out of Canada for some reason, and obviously it is better to sell to US carriers out of their home country.

Cutting 60 jobs in Canada probably reflects the significant number of Canadian employees who were unwilling to move to the States, or those who were deemed as not strong enough to warrant an offer to move. It’s probably best described as BlackBerry gutting the Canadian-based US sales team, and for good reason.

I’m relieved to hear the news. Had the company’s PR team said nothing at all I’d assume the news was in fact true, as would many other customers. That would not be good for sales.

Context is everything. Gutting a sales force suggests things are horrible. But knowing the context of the situation, this is actually a smart move by BlackBerry. It’s something that should probably have been done years ago - and at least it’s being done now.