(New York Times) At their peak, just a few years ago, BlackBerry smartphones were symbols of corporate and political power. When President Obama took office he made keeping his BlackBerry a personal priority, and when BlackBerry service had a hiccup so did business on Wall Street.

But after being upstaged time and again by industry rivals, the devices may soon remain only in memories.

On Friday, BlackBerry announced that it would lay off 4,500 employees, or nearly 40 percent of its already reduced work force. The cut is so deep some analysts and investors said that the company’s days as a smartphone maker were effectively over.

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