New book on Blackberry is a lesson

I’ve said this before: what really makes the technology industry interesting is that it is like every other business played in fast forward. You can see familiar rises and falls but so fast that you can genuinely see them: it’s no longer a business school exercise, it’s today’s news.

A new book concentrates on the fall of Blackberry and specifically how the iPhone effectively and dramatically ended what was the most beloved phone company in the world.

From Amazon and the publishers’ description, this is Losing the Signal:

In 2009, BlackBerry controlled half of the smartphone market. Today that number is less than one percent. What went so wrong?

Losing the Signal is a riveting story of a company that toppled global giants before succumbing to the ruthlessly competitive forces of Silicon Valley. This is not a conventional tale of modern business failure by fraud and greed. The rise and fall of BlackBerry reveals the dangerous speed at which innovators race along the information superhighway.

With unprecedented access to key players, senior executives, directors and competitors, Losing the Signal unveils the remarkable rise of a company that started above a bagel store in Ontario. At the heart of the story is an unlikely partnership between a visionary engineer, Mike Lazaridis, and an abrasive Harvard Business school grad, Jim Balsillie. Together, they engineered a pioneering pocket email device that became the tool of choice for presidents and CEOs. The partnership enjoyed only a brief moment on top of the world, however. At the very moment BlackBerry was ranked the world’s fastest growing company internal feuds and chaotic growth crippled the company as it faced its gravest test: Apple and Google’s entry in to mobile phones.

Expertly told by acclaimed journalists, Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, this is an entertaining, whirlwind narrative that goes behind the scenes to reveal one of the most compelling business stories of the new century.

Losing the Signal blurb on Amazon

The book is released 26 May and can be ordered now from Amazon.

Weekend read: BlackBerry’s home town decline

It’s a little after 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and I’m sitting in a freezing rental car outside the BlackBerry headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, looking for signs of life.

Five years and several billion dollars ago, these buildings would have been full, and the windows would have been dotted with busy silhouettes. But today, it’s a ghost town.

The life, death, and rebirth of BlackBerry’s hometown – Kevin Roose, Fusion (8 February 2015)

Do read the full piece: it’s absorbing and also a little more uplifting than you might expect given Blackberry’s fortunes.