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Biggest tech industry layoffs of 2012

HP, RIM, Sony, T-Mobile among top job cutters

By , Network World
May 30, 2012 03:24 PM ET

Network World - Research in Motion, reeling as its BlackBerry takes a beating from the Apple iPhone and assorted Android smartphones, is expected to lay off anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 employees to cut costs and turn around its financial fortunes. While the exact number of layoffs from RIM's 16,000-plus staff remains to be confirmed, the restructured company appears headed for a high rank on this year's list of tech industry layoffs.

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RIM will have plenty of company from other telecom companies, including Nokia, which said in February it would whack 4,000 jobs upon moving more of its manufacturing from Europe and Mexico to Asia, where factories have larger scale and closer proximity to component makers. The moves dovetail with Nokia's effort to ramp up Windows Phone production as it focuses on that market in light of falling Symbian-based smartphone sales. Nokia finished its fiscal 2011 year with revenue down 21% in the fourth quarter and reported a loss, rather than a profit as it had the year before in the fourth quarter.

Nokia figured prominently among last year's top tech job cutters, axing some 7,500 jobs while refocusing on Windows Phone and handing over Symbian activities to Accenture.

Also on the telecom front, T-Mobile and Sprint have announced layoffs this year.

T-Mobile, recovering from the FCC's shooting down of its proposed $39 billion merger with AT&T, announced in March that call center consolidation would cost 1,900 workers their jobs. One AT&T official blamed the FCC's decision not to OK the deal for the T-Mobile layoffs. 

T-Mobile announced another 350 jobs cuts in May. 

Rival Sprint said in February that it would slash jobs in the wake of a January management reshuffling, and according to a FierceWireless report at the time, the number of jobs affected was expected to be about 100 of about 40,000. Related, Sprint network operator Ericsson reportedly began laying off 10% of its 14,000-person North American workforce in March, weeding out its lowest performers. 

Other big bloodlettings this year from technology ranks:

*The job cuts cited above pale in comparison to HP's recently announced plans to slash 8% of its workforce via layoffs and retirement offers, which translates into about 27,000 jobs. The company expects the cuts to save it $3 billion to $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2014. The job cuts are "difficult" but they also are "necessary to improve execution and to fund long-term health" of HP, CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement.

*Sony said in April it will cut about 10,000 of its 168,000 worldwide employees as part of a restructuring plan. Some of the workforce reduction will come by spinning off non-core businesses, including chemical operations and LCD screen production. Sony lost about $2.7 billion in its fiscal year ended in March. The company, which has lost ground in areas such as TVs, is refocusing on consumer products such as phones and tablets.

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