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Losing The Signal

The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry

By Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
15-minute read
Audio available
Losing The Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff

Losing the Signal (2015) tells the story of Research in Motion, the company that created the BlackBerry. Beginning with RIM’s time as a minor contender in wireless communication in the mid-1990s, it takes us through its triumph as the most influential player in the wireless communication devices market in the mid-2000s, and reveals why RIM sank as rapidly as it rose.

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Business leaders
  • Anyone interested in technology

Jacquie McNish is a best-selling author and senior correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Sean Silcoff, a reporter for The Globe and Mail, is an award-winning business writer.

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Losing The Signal

The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry

By Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Losing The Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
Synopsis

Losing the Signal (2015) tells the story of Research in Motion, the company that created the BlackBerry. Beginning with RIM’s time as a minor contender in wireless communication in the mid-1990s, it takes us through its triumph as the most influential player in the wireless communication devices market in the mid-2000s, and reveals why RIM sank as rapidly as it rose.

Key idea 1 of 9

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis got to know each other in Canada.

In the 1970s, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs created the Apple I, which essentially laid the foundation for personal computing. In the 1990s, another tech-savvy duo invented another landmark device: the BlackBerry.

One half of the duo – Jim Balsillie – started out as an ambitious student and employee. He grew up in Canada, and was inspired by books such as The Canadian Establishment, by Peter Newman, which was about the Canadian business elite, and the classic The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.

Balsillie’s first job was at Sutherland-Schultz, a small firm in Canada, where he was in charge of selling products and services, as well as negotiating business deals with partners. While at Sutherland-Schultz, he was introduced to Mike Lazaridis – the CEO of Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM). RIM was a Sutherland-Schultz supplier and one of the first companies to work on wireless data technology devices.

After meeting Lazaridis and learning about his ambitions for RIM, Balsillie became interested in working with him.

Mike Lazaridis had a keen, lifelong interest in technology. He was born in Istanbul and, in 1966, when he was five years old, his family moved to Canada, where he was raised. His passion for engineering was already obvious in high school. He would often ask his teachers if he could experiment with the equipment at the school; he and his friends were fascinated by science and elected to get after-school tutoring in applied physics so that they could build on this passion.

Later, during his time at the University of Waterloo, Lazaridis and his friends created a device called Budgie, which could be wirelessly connected to a TV and display information. Lazaridis saw a great business opportunity in Budgie, and it was for this reason that he founded RIM in 1984.

After Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie began working together, it became clear that they were an ideal pair: their different character traits resulted in a perfect symbiosis, with Lazaridis’s technological know-how complementing Balsillie’s aptitude for business management.

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