BlackBerry has fired 250 people from its research and development division while it attempts to re-establish itself as a leading smartphone manufacturer and stabilize its business.

As reported by TechCrunch (via CTV News) all of the affected employees were based in the company’s new product testing facility in Waterloo, Ontario. A company spokesperson said the changes have been made to help BlackBerry streamline their product development.

“I can confirm on the record, that BlackBerry on Tuesday informed 250 employees of their termination in Waterloo,” BlackBerry’s Lisette Kwong said. “These employees were part of the New Product Testing Facility, a department that supports BlackBerry’s manufacturing and R&D efforts.

“This is part of the next stage of our turnaround plan to increase efficiencies and scale our company correctly for new opportunities in mobile computing. We will be as transparent as possible as those plans evolve.”

The move follows the resignation by David Smith, BlackBerry’s Vice President in charge of its struggling PlayBook tablet vision. That was less surprising given that BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins recently ruled out porting BlackBerry 10 to the unsuccessful slate – admitting that multiple teams had spent “a great deal of time and energy” looking at various solutions.

Richard Piasentin, BlackBerry’s US managing director, was also fired earlier this month.

Both departures follow BlackBerry’s announcement last year that it would shed 5,000 jobs from the company. A further 250 from its R&D team is certainly worrying, given that it’s the first place where new products and ideas would be conceived.

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