McNish and Silcoff - Losing the Signal (20)

The story of the rise and fall of Blackberry/ Research in Motion. It came out in 2015, but mostly ends a few years before that. It centres on the launch of the Blackberry, the company’s global success, and then sheds light on how and why the company failed in the wake of iPhone and Android competitors. 

People interested in corporate case studies will find it fascinating how the company was simultaneously peaking and collapsing at the same time - the signals of success were screaming loudly at the exact moment that strategic decisions (and indecisions) were being made that doomed the company. The fact that those two things could be happening at the same time is an important lesson. 

It’s a good read, but it lacks the main thesis or moral that makes some corporate histories and biographies spectacular. At under 300 pages, there isn’t space to truly get inside the heads of the players involved in the story. As a result, it has the feel of a very long magazine feature, more than a book.

But it’s a fast read and an interesting counterpoint to the usual “yay Silcon valley rah rah” stories.
At the end of the day, many people walked away with a lot of money. You could spin it as a success story, and an American may have done just that. But because the company is now a shell of its former self, it failed to survive. Which makes it an inherently Canadian story. A nice post-script to Margaret Atwood’s analysis of the quintessential “Canadian” story of survival. 

What’s Next?

Fiction again. Something with a wonderful narrator, a voice that will lull me after weeks and weeks of long hours and travel.