Losing the Signal

Losing the Signal

The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry

Book - 2015
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"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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto :, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd,, [2015]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781443436182
Branch Call Number: 338.47 MCN
Characteristics: 279 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Silcoff, Sean


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Aug 25, 2016

I'm not a techie, and I couldn't put this book down.

May 27, 2016

The information included in the book was too "technical" in its details for the reader not fully comfortable with this area of modern day life to follow. I am sure the information is very accurate (McNish is an excellent writer) but I found it difficult to follow the story line, given my understanding of this field.

Feb 04, 2016

This book isn't a must read.

Oct 15, 2015

As a former Crackberry addict, and one who is saddened by the demise of a once great company, this book is a must read. I also makes ones want to scream to the rafters in frustration that no one was able to right the wrongs that, on reflection, were so plain to see.

Oct 05, 2015

Excellent rendering of a shared partnership with a technical focus and a financial brain.
Fascinating account of Jim Balsillie's use of Sun Tsu's Art of War techniques (originally published in 513 BC) as applied to business. Great read on what happened to a group of Canadians with a can-do attitude. They made it, but they couldn`t sustain it.

wendybird Aug 14, 2015

Cast your mind back – way, way back to 1996 when the only handheld devices around were a physician’s pager or the odd PDA or “Palm Pilot. “Portable phones” required huge batteries, and certainly could not connect to the internet or e-mail. Now, picture today’s iPhone or giant screened Samsung Android: things have come a long way digitally under 2 decades. What you may have forgotten – or never knew – was that “Research in Motion” (then RIM, and finally now, “BlackBerry”) a tiny Canadian company, was responsible for the gigantic technological jump to a 24/7, wireless, e-mail and internet enabled, handheld device.

“Losing the signal” is the fascinating history of “BlackBerry”, the Waterloo, Ontario technology company that began with 2 geeky undergrads working above a bagel shop. By 2003, it was providing Wall Street brokers, President Barack Obama and even Oprah with their must-have devices. The tale is breathtaking, lurching as it does between impossible successes and near-catastrophic failures. Along the way, the reader is offered layman level descriptions of the various complex technological developments. These sidebars make the book a pocket history of smartphones as well as a company’s story.

Fuelled by a high school teacher’s pronouncement that, “the person who puts wireless communications and computers together is really going to build something special”, Lazaridis ambitiously founded a company designed to get the world to that wireless somewhere. By 1996, he and his relentless financial whiz kid partner, Jim Balsillie were amazing the world with prototypes such as “the Bullfrog”, a small device with a screen and a full keyboard that allowed users to receive e-mail messages wirelessly. 19 years and hundreds of smartphones later, it’s easy to forget that this was revolutionary, and that this advancement came inside Canadian borders.

Authors (and Globe & Mail business writers) Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff also offer a full and unblinking assessment of co-CEOS, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, their relationship, and their roles in both finding and losing the signal. Judging by the frankness of the quotations, the writers seem to have had direct, unfiltered and uncensored access to these men and to other company principals. While not always kind, the reportage is clear, and it becomes easy to understand why both great wins and losses came BlackBerry’s way.

This book is highly recommended for business and technology fans, and for anyone curious about the Canadian roots of the now-ubiquitous smart phone.

drudofsky Jun 18, 2015

McNish did a beautiful job researching and explaining the human, technical and business factors behind the rise and fall of Blackberry maker Research in Motion

May 31, 2015

Excellent, top drawer business writing. Both well written and accurate, portraying the major players in a most interesting fashion, as well as presenting the history of what occurred. [What RIM, or BlackBerry, did to Nokia was a dirty deal reminiscent of the fictional biz suspense book/movie, Paranoia by Joseph Finder, but Nokia's culpability - - along with Siemens - - in developing the Trovicor Monitoring Center, and its use to track down pro-democracy activists the world over, certainly made them a karmic target!]

May 23, 2015


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