09/18/2013 02:52 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 03:27 EDT

BlackBerry Layoffs Could Hit 40 Per Cent Of Staff: Wall Street Journal

Thorsten Heins, chief executive officer of BlackBerry, listens during the company's annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. BlackBerrys chances of becoming a viable contender to Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in the smartphone market are dimming amid lackluster demand for its flagship touch-screen device. Photographer: Pawel Dwulit/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An unconfirmed report in the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is getting ready to slash as much as 40 per cent of its workforce.

If true, the move could prove damaging to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, where the company’s workforce is concentrated.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal said staff cuts would affect every aspect of the company’s operations.

"Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing," a spokesperson told the Journal, declining to comment on the 40-per-cent figure.

But a company spokesperson told CP24 the Journal's report is "is just rumour and speculation at this point."

BlackBerry has cut more than a quarter of its staff in the past few years, from around 17,000 in 2011 to 12,700 the last time it reported employment numbers, earlier this year.

The news comes as BlackBerry announced the launch this week of the Z30, a five-inch, full-screen smartphone meant to compete with large-sized phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S.

BlackBerry also announced its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service will be available on Android phones around the world as of September 21.

BlackBerry announced earlier this year it intends to make BBM available to users of smartphones other than its own, leading observers to speculate the company may be shifting its business strategy from being a smartphone maker exclusively to being a software developer for other platforms as well.

It's been reported the company is mulling spinning off BBM as a separate company.

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