• The Washington Post


The BlackBerry, once the most coveted gadget of Washington’s political and business elite, appears to be near extinction after its parent company on Friday announced nearly $1 billion in losses for the second quarter.

It was the latest of dire announcements from BlackBerry in recent days as it falters in its competition with popular smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy and Apple’s iPhone.

BlackBerry said it would lay off 4,500 people, or 40 percent of its staff, and slash operational expenses in half. The company earlier in the week said it was seeking “strategic alternatives” that could include the sale of the firm. The second quarter was particularly grim for the Canadian company, formerly known as Research in Motion. The firm said that most of its writedown would come from its inability to clear stockpiles of its latest BlackBerry 10 device. Trading in shares of BlackBerry was halted after they dropped 17.1 percent to close at $8.73 on the news.

BlackBerry’s president said the company will focus on enterprise markets, where it may benefit from the perception of providing greater security than other devices.

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