Even with a new flagship on its hands, times are still looking tough at BlackBerry. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Canadian smartphone-maker is planning to lay off 40 per cent of a workforce of about 12,700, in what would be a huge move.

The potential layoffs, unconfirmed by BlackBerry, come at a time when the company is pursuing a buyer for its entire operation or just bits and pieces. One report in recent months noted more stable entities at BlackBerry, like BBM, could be spun-off into separate operations in hopes to gain market share. 

The employee cuts could be a way for the company to slim down and be fitter in its hopes to regain market share from iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, which have dominated in recent years. Two years ago BlackBerry held 14 per cent of the US smartphone market, and now it is down to just 3 per cent, according to numbers from IDC.  

Some of the layoffs began in the summer, the WSJ notes, focused around sales and research and development divisions at the company. This year's layoffs are on top of the 5,000 jobs that  cut in 2012 in the company's efforts to launch BlackBerry 10, which looks to have not gained as much market share as hoped. Last quarter, BlakBerry suffered losses of $84 million, and a similar outlook is being predicted when it reports earnings next week.

Bert Nordberg, once-CEO of Sony Ericsson and member of BlackBerry's board of directors, said this month that BlackBerry should accept a position as "a niche maker of mobile hardware". The layoffs to shrink the size of BlackBerry's staff are necessary in order to take such a position.  

We've reached out to BlackBerry for comment on the latest layoff rumours. 

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