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BlackBerry fires head of US sales as it reportedly plans another round of job cuts

BlackBerry fires head of US sales as it reportedly plans another round of job cuts

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BlackBerry's comeback effort is reportedly hitting yet another setback. Richard Piasentin, the embattled smartphone maker's US managing director, has been fired and, according to The Wall Street Journal a large number of layoffs are being planned as well. Piasentin's departure and the Journal report follow word last month that BlackBerry 10 devices — running the company's revamped touch-centric OS designed to challenge iOS and Android — failed to help the company turn a profit in their first full quarter of availability.

In an annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday, CEO Thorsten Heins told unhappy shareholders that while the US launch of BlackBerry 10 wasn't a disaster, US carriers didn't help matters by displaying "opportunistic thinking" in promoting Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy handsets more than BB10 phones, the Journal said. Sales of BB10 devices have been so slow, that Microsoft has publicly claimed that Windows Phone has overtaken BlackBerry as the third most popular mobile platform.

Heins blamed carriers for "opportunistic thinking"

Other signs of trouble have included 5,000 layoffs over the past year, and the decision to not update the PlayBook tablet to BB10 as previously promised. While BlackBerry did confirm to The Verge that, as of last month, Piasentin was no longer with the company, it declined to comment on the reported additional job cuts. Currently, BlackBerry employs about 11,000. We've reached out to the company to confirm the layoffs, but we haven't heard back as of yet — we'll update this post if we do.

Last year, Piasentin told The Verge in an interview that while BlackBerry was still struggling, it wasn't dead yet. The US sales chief defended the company's strategy, despite its continued lackluster sales. "I want to convey that fighting spirit that's in BlackBerry," he said. "People don't get it till it's totally done — that's why we're making some very difficult decisions right now. We believe [BlackBerry] is at the beginning of a transition that will change the way people communicate."