Roy Gilbert

From Sprint to Microsoft: The 5 biggest job cutters in wireless in 2014

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By Phil Goldstein

Last week the U.S. economy marked a major milestone: The official unemployment rate dipped to 5.9 percent , the first time it has been below 6 percent since the summer of 2008.

Indeed, some companies in the wireless industry that shed thousands of jobs in recent years are now on the mend. For example, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO John Chen said earlier this summer the company has finished its three-year-long restructuring efforts as it seeks to refocus on the enterprise market, and would begin targeted hiring. Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has seen its finances recover after announcing more than 15,000 job cuts in the past three years.

Despite those improvements, continued shifts in the mobile market have forced thousands of workers out of their jobs this year. Reason vary: Some companies are getting out of businesses where they have been unable to make headway–such as Ericsson’s (NASDAQ: ERIC) recent decision to exit the wireless-modem business and cut around 1,000 jobs–while others are cutting jobs simply to improve their balance sheets.

Abelian Research analyst Charles Golvin, a longtime tech and wireless analyst, said each business that has made large cuts this year did so for unique reasons. For example, he said, network vendor Cisco cut thousands of employees mainly because “the service provider infrastructure equipment business is, I think, in a pretty rough state of flux right now.” He noted that Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technology is shaking up the traditional network gear business model and “the business of selling proprietary gear […]

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