Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry (Amazon,) tells the story of RIM (Research In Motion,) the maker of the once popular Blackberry. (Excerpts.)
The very thing that made you successful has the potential to drag you down if you hold onto it too long. That is the tragic tale of RIM. It slayed established phone makers like Nokia, Siemens and Samsung in the corporate market with its email focused device. And just when it started to focus on the consumer market, it was dealt a body blow by Apple’s iPhone. Then Android came along and finished it off.
The following excerpt succinctly captures the challenge:
The company’s business had been disrupted on several levels, with no obvious path forward. Was RIM supposed to defend the QWERTY keyboard, or jump all-in and become a touch-screen smartphone maker? Was it supposed to challenge Apple at the high end of the smartphone market or focus on the lower end with devices like its Curve and Gemini models, which were driving heady sales gains in foreign markets where Apple wasn’t yet a factor? Should the company stick to its closed, proprietary software technology or open its platform? One of the biggest puzzles was what to do about apps. was RIM taking the right approach or should it stick to its “constructive alignment” narrative and leave the sale of apps to carriers?
It wasn’t that RIM was oblivious of Apple’s and Android’s threat to their handset business. It was that they badly bungled the response. The management was distracted and couldn’t agree on a strategy. However, with the old CEOs out and Prem Watsa’s help, $BBRY plots its next act.