A book to be released on May 26th shares the inside story of BlackBerry’s fall from grace after the iPhone

A book to be released on May 26th shares the inside story of BlackBerry’s fall from grace after the iPhone
“It’s okay – we’ll be fine,” said Jim Balsille to his co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis upon watching a replay of Steve Jobs taking the covers off what would be one of the most disruptive products in the history of modern world, the Apple iPhone.

Such as would be part of the mindset of the company then known as Research in Motion (not to mention Nokia and Motorola), confident in its position as a secure platform and partner for businesses and governments around the world.

Even Mr. Balsille was not that naïve though, according to the soon-to-be released book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, his first thought upon seeing AT&T’s Cingular announce an exclusive multi-year deal to sell the iPhone was that RIM was going to lose AT&T as a customer.

Apple redefined how manufacturers dealt with carriers. Mr. Lazaridis was in awe over what he saw, “How did they do that?” He also correctly hypothesized that the iPhone would crush AT&T’s network.

The co-CEOs were also perturbed at how Apple was allowed to put a full web browser on the iPhone, “The carriers aren’t letting us put a full browser on our products.” The two agreed that the iPhone was a game changer, “These guys are really, really good.”

Despite the functional gaps in the first generation iPhone, RIM’s CTO, David Yach learned a hard lesson about the impact Apple had on the market, “I learned that beauty matters…RIM was caught incredulous that people wanted to buy this thing.”

RIM was not the only company concerned about the iPhone. Verizon too was aware of the competitive edge the iPhone gave AT&T. Dubbed the “Jesus Phone,” Apple’s new device flew off the shelves and as described in the book, “This was no ordinary phone. It was a cult with devoted and rapidly growing following.”

Verizon loved RIM’s eventual response to the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, and promised the moon and the stars from a massive marketing budget to stocked product through every retail channel possible. The only problem, a deadline of less than a year from when executives first held a Storm prototype to when Big Red wanted to launch the device.

The deadline was missed, but RIM did get the Storm on market in time for the holiday shopping season of 2008. Internally, RIM’s engineers knew the product was not polished inside or out, and it showed. Even then, the BlackBerry Storm was RIM’s best product launch ever. That success was wiped out however, as Verizon asserted that nearly every device sold had to be replaced, and profoundly high return-rate was seen even on the replaced devices.

Verizon wanted RIM to pay for the wreckage, $500 million. RIM worked out an alternative which Verizon had to accept because the deal on the BlackBerry Storm was a “take or pay” agreement, meaning that Big Red had to buy the lot no matter what. The fix kept RIM’s balance sheet in line, and Verizon’s customers were taken care of, but the relationship between the two companies would never be the same.

Mike Lazaridis was convinced the clickable screen was the best idea for a touch-screen device, and the Storm was a first for Verizon on many fronts as well. Though he still felt that a BlackBerry’s low-bandwidth usage, long battery life, strong security, and best-in-class keyboard was the winning formula, but Apple’s iPhone had opened Pandora’s box and the industry was past the point of no return.

Apple changed the nature of OEM-carrier relationships. Everything Cupertino did was an industry first. Apple drove the platform development and updates, Apple set up an “app store” with no revenue going to the carrier, and the whole dynamic had changed because RIM had been begging carriers to allow it to do these very things for years, all to no avail.

It left Jim Basillie asking a lot of questions of himself, and of RIM. Once RIM’s BlackBerry App World was launched, it was behind Apple to the tune of 1 billion downloads. “The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore. We’re grappling with who we are because we can’t be who we used to be anymore, which sucked...It’s not clear what the hell to do.”

Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry will released on May 26th. It is available for pre-order through a variety of online markets including Google Play, Apple’s iBooks, and Amazon, as well as through brick and mortar book stores.

source: The Wall Street Journal

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65 Comments

1. waddup121 unregistered

Blackberry be old news...

34. Mxyzptlk unregistered

That appears to be the case.

2. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

And Google went to bed with carriers instead, and the consumers have to beg for updates as a result. ROFL.

3. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Most consumers don't care and certainly don't beg. Anyways, back to the topic at hand, this book looks really interesting. I've read some really good pieces on Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even Palm, but not much about Blackberry. Sure, these types of books are basically just a timeline of tech-news, but it's really helpful to have them compiled in an organized way. It really helps you see the big picture.

10. AppleCultist

Posts: 335; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

At least Android updates don't make your device a laggy POS like iOS updates. What's that? Apple fragmenting iOS by releasing 2 iOS 9 versions? rofl... Timely updates isn't an advantage if the updates cripple your device. Now stop crying about your buyer's remorse and go buy an Android.

14. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

Android has had issue with updates breaking OS on Android phones, what Apple is currently experiencing isn't unique to Apple. Timely updates is a must, because malware, hackers are alway changing and loopholes and security flaws are always constantly being discovered, The problem with Android is you could go upto a year without a patch to fix a security flaw while with apple its almost alway within a month of its discovery.

16. AppleCultist

Posts: 335; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

iOS updates are like malwares themselves - they make your device crash, lag, and hang.

18. nwright94

Posts: 211; Member since: Oct 14, 2014

Certain OEM's for Android aren't any better. Lollipop introduced a battery draining bug to my HTC One M8 that wasn't there on KitKat. Google play services consistently is 20% of the use of my battery. That's a pretty big hit to usability. Its not just Apple you're just trolling.

21. AppleCultist

Posts: 335; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

With buggy Android updates, you know they will be fixed. With iOS updates, your lag, worse battery life, and more crashing are there forever, because Apple planned it that way.

32. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Really because I'm still waiting on Lolliflop to be fixed on my girlfriend's tablet. You want to talk about "buggy" software look no further than the massive memory leak on Android. Seriously just give it a &$*%ing rest.

40. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

You know you don't even have a girlfriend Mxy. Schwacking off to porn sites doesn't count. Stop it.

46. nwright94

Posts: 211; Member since: Oct 14, 2014

The latest iOS update made my 6 Plus significantly more stable than it was before. You're spouting grade A BS.

24. gaming64 unregistered

Don't argue with a troll, guys

26. AppleCultist

Posts: 335; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

Apparently, telling the truth is considered trolling to the Apple flock.

27. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

It always has been considered that as far as they're concerned.

33. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Bull*$&% isn't truth.

35. AppleCultist

Posts: 335; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

Such asshurt.

36. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

He feels it daily. Lol!

38. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I hear the crikets chirping on that one

41. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

Sounds like your bedroom on a Saturday night, doesn't it? And it's spelled "crickets". You forgot a "c".

37. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I'm not butthurt.

39. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

What does Google have to do with this article troll #2?

44. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

A lot. Since Google went to bed with carriers instead of taking an Apple like approach, Android is fragmented and bloated. Consumers and OEM's profitability suffer from these annoyances. As a result, all the OEMs are doing hardly more than barely surviving - except for Samsung probably (for now), thus hardly any better than BB. And Google doesn't care as long as they can rest upon the sheer number of potential ad banners. What a joke.

47. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

That is absolutely NO explanation as to why you brought Google up in an article that has absolutely NOTHING to do with Google. As always, you're just using your blind fanboyism as an excuse to bash Google.

53. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

Did you read the article? Reading in comprehension seems to be none of your strengths. Well, that's not a problem of mine.

54. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

Yes, I read the article. Did you? Because the only mention of Google is at the very end when they say the book will be available on Google Play. If you think THAT'S enough to justify your constant trolling of Google/Android, then you're an even bigger and troll than I figured. Intelligence on a whole clearly is something you're struggling with.

57. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

If you want to be spoon fed instead of thinking for yourself, ask your mom. I'm not the right person.

58. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

In other words: "I've been outed as a troll again, and have also been proven to be a complete !Diot. Now, in a pitiful attempt to save face, I have to start talking about meanestgenius mom. I really am a low life, insignificant troll." There, I fixed your post for you.

59. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

Your confession wasn't that interesting to be honest.

60. meanestgenius

Posts: 22287; Member since: May 28, 2014

You shouldn't talk about yourself like that.

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