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Reports of layoffs at BlackBerry are hitting the web just days after speculation hit that the company could soon be auctioned to the highest bidder. A post on CNET today points to multiple sources—ranging from Canadian tech blog Cantech Letter to the Wall Street Journal’s Digits Blog—which each report that BlackBerry’s sales force was cut down as of Monday. Just how many people got the axe remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: times are tough at BlackBerry, and continuing to get tougher.

According to Cantech Letter, the company laid off “more than half its salesforce,” citing an unnamed “source close to the matter.”

“I had twenty guys (from BlackBerry) on BBM from sales,” the sources is quoted as saying, “and they have all posted alternate emails on their status.”

As for Digits’ report, there aren’t any actual numbers provided, though it does offer up a statement from a BlackBerry spokesperson regarding the supposed cuts, which essentially confirms that there have been some layoffs: “I can confirm a small number of employees were laid off today.”

So how many is a “small number”? What number constitutes “more than half”? Digits says that as of March, BlackBerry employed over 12,000 people. Whether or not that number was, or is, accurate isn’t clear, but even if BlackBerry only employs half of that figure, the aforementioned “twenty guys” wouldn’t have too dramatic an impact on the company overall.

However, the practical effect isn’t quite as important as the perceived effect might be. BlackBerry is stuck in the category of “also-ran.” Where the company was once the go-to smartphone for high-powered business folk, Apple, Samsung, and Google’s popular devices and mobile operating systems have largely shoved BlackBerry into irrelevance. The fact that its most recent attempts to compete with iOS and Android fell more or less flat on its face doesn’t help matters.

That said, clearly BlackBerry is working to streamline its operations, especially if it’s looking for a buyer. That means getting as lean and mean as possible in advance of an acquisition, and the quickest means to that end is layoffs. And considering that lackluster sales are the big problem facing BlackBerry, gutting the sales department first seems like a no-brainer.

What’s going to happen next? Will Google buy BlackBerry, like it bought Motoroloa, and retrofit the company to start putting out business-oriented Android devices? Or will Microsoft add to its stable of device manufacturers in its attempt to bring Windows Mobile into the fight?

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