They are?quite literally?everywhere. US President Barack Obama admits he cannot live without it. Oprah Winfrey, reigning queen of daytime TV, declared on air that the BlackBerry is one of her “favourite things.” BusinessWeek put the case for owning one bluntly in an article entitled simply: “No BlackBerry. No Life.”
Launched in 1984 with a $15,000 parental loan, co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have propelled Research In Motion (RIM) into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. The reason: the BlackBerry. RIM sold more than 50 million BlackBerrys by 2009 and sales of the handheld devices generates annual profits in excess of $11 billion.
BlackBerry: The Inside Story of Research In Motion is National-Book-Award-winner and bestselling-author Rod McQueen’s fascinating and absorbing biography of not only the device’s incredible popularity, but a never-before-seen behind-the-scenes glimpse into its origins and development?and the geniuses who were its inspiration.close this panel
Excerpt from the Preface of
BlackBerry:Welcome to the Revolution Mike Lazaridis moves to the microphone with theeasy self-assurance of a successful inventor whose creation, BlackBerry, is as well known in the family room as the boardroom. As he looks out at the shareholders attending the July 2009 annual meeting of Research In Motion (RIM), he knows that he has a room full of happy investors. The market capitalization of the firm — the number of shares times the per share value — is $43 billion, making RIM three times bigger than Motorola, a major competitor founded in 1928, more than half a century before RIM’s brave beginnings in 1984 as a two-man shop on borrowed money. Share price has recovered to $75, more than double the levels reached during the global financial crisis that battered all companies six months earlier. At the peak of his powers, Lazaridis is one of thoserare people in business who rightly deserves to be called a genius. “It’s a privilege to work with experts every day,” he said, referring to RIM’s 12,000 employees, including 5,000 in research and development, up from a total of only 100 employees in 1997. “We knew we were building a company for the long term,” he said. “We’re just absolutely obsessed with customer quality, the reliability of the product, and the value we’re providing the carrier, the enterprise, the IT manager, and the user. You turn it on and it just works,” he said.The device works so well that the company sold 50 million BlackBerrys by January 2009, half of those in the previous year alone. BlackBerry commands a 55 per cent market share of the U.S. smartphone market, and a 21 per cent global market share, as Research In Motion increasingly becomes the first choice for the world. RIM has also become Canada’s most valuable tech company with annual revenues of more than $11 billion and annual growth of 84 per cent, a meteoric rate usually reserved for start-ups. In fact, Fortune Magazine ranked RIM at the top of its 2009 list of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the world and RIM’s ranking at the top of the 2009 “Tech 100” list published by Canadian Business magazine illustrated RIM’s tech titan status in Canada with a market cap that was actually more than double the combined value of the other 99 publicly traded Canadian technology companies on the list. And according to a Millward Brown brand study, the BlackBerry brand value grew 390 per cent in the past year and is now worth $28 billion, ranked as the sixteenth most valuable brand in the world and tenth in North America. In just ten years, the BlackBerry brand grew from cult object to icon status and ranks higher than other household names such as Intel, Amazon, American Express, Disney and Pepsi.
ROD MCQUEEN has been a journalist for more than thirty years and has lived and worked professionally in London,Washington, D.C., and Toronto. During that time he has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, and has also done broadcast work. He is the author of eleven books, including Who Killed Confederation Life?, winner of the National Business Book Award, and the bestseller, The Eatons: The Rise and Fall of Canada's Royal Family, winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award in history. The Icarus Factor, the unauthorized biography of Edgar Bronfman Jr., was published in 2004. He lives with his wife in Toronto.close this panel