When Steve Jobs walked on stage in 2007 to introduce the world to the iPhone, it was not yet clear how much communication was about to change.
Research In Motion, the Canadian maker behind BlackBerry, was in high standing, on its way to controlling half of the smartphone market. With its addictive grasp on the corporate world (fanatics called it the “Crackberry”), when RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis showed the video to his partner Jim Balsillie, the latter had one thing to say: “We’ll be fine.”
“They knew the iPhone was a huge threat, but they didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did, because the iPhone had so much capacity and drained so much bandwidth, that they assumed that the carriers would not be able to catch up with all the things that they wanted to offer in the iPhone – whether it was Angry Birds or YouTube videos,” Jacquie McNish toldHere & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “That was just an impossibility from BlackBerry’s perspective.”
McNish and Sean Silcoff, who are both writers at The Globe and Mail, uncovered the story of the once-beloved phone maker for a new book called “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” (excerpt below).
Mike Lazaridis’ words would prove false, as infighting, a series of blunders and a refusal to accept how consumers expectations of technology were changing would corrode the strength of their flagship product, the BlackBerry.
“This company almost got killed so many times, and you just can’t take for granted just how absolutely predatory the technology space is,” Silcoff said. “Nobody will give you a break.”
So what lessons are there to be learned from BlackBerry’s mistakes and miscalculations?
“You can probably trust your rival more than your best customer, it would seem sometimes,” Silcoff said. “That might be eye opening for a very optimistic young entrepreneur who’s setting out into the world with a great new idea.”