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BlackBerry to lay off 4,500 employees, as losses mount

The former smartphone market leader announced on Friday it will let 40 percent of its global workforce go.

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In this July 9, 2013, file photo, pedestrians walk near BlackBerry's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

Geoff Robins, The Canadian Press/AP/File

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BlackBerry says it will lay off 4,500 employees, or 40 percent of its global workforce, as it reports a nearly $1 billion second-quarter loss in a surprise early release of earnings results.

The stock dropped 19 percent to $8.50 after reopening for trading. Shares had been halted pending the news.

BlackBerry had been scheduled to release earnings next week. But the Canadian company said late Friday afternoon it expects a loss of about $950 million to $995 million for the quarter, including a massive inventory charge due to increasing market competition.

The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, was the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other customers before Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007. Since then, BlackBerry Ltd. has been hammered by competition from the iPhone as well as Android-based rivals like Samsung.

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