Two Canadian Tech Companies, Two Very Different Stories: Shopify and BlackBerry

Shopify and BlackBerry are Canadian companies, tech pioneers, and led by CEOs with German accents, but that’s where the similarities end…

Shopify Gets into the POS Business

shopify pos 1

With nearly a third of Shopify shopowners owning a brick-and-mortar shop in addition to their online one, it only made sense that they’d put out their own POS (point of sale, a.k.a. cash register) system. It’s an iPad-based system, and it’s the kind of thing that only Shopify could pull off, as it looks like the joint effort of several of its teams, all of whom do what they do like no other:

  • the web development team that was its original core,
  • the mobile development team that grew from their Select Start Studios acquisition,
  • the design team that does a killer job whether they’re designing user interfaces or their own workspaces and who they grew with the acquisition of Jet Cooper
  • their experience with payments,
  • the vision of guys like Tobi, Cody, and Harley

shopify pos 2

You can read more here:

Nicely done, guys!

BlackBerry is a Failed State

blackberry as a failed state

Image taken from BuzzFeed.

John Herrman’s article in BuzzFeed, BlackBerry is a Failed State, is an article I wished I’d written. A failed state is the perfect metaphor for the one-time ruler of the smartphone world and the jewel in the Canadian tech industry’s crown. As Herrman puts it:

But BlackBerry isn’t quite DEC, nor is it Gateway or Palm. It’s a company that even today has millions of active a loyal users, who don’t just purchase BlackBerry products but use them every hour of every day — who live in them, and will soon have to live in something else. BlackBerry is less like a company than a country. A failed state: BlackBerria.

BlackBerria exhibits all the classic signs of a collapsing country. Today, it’s the kind of place that might compel the State Department to issue a travel advisory. It’s a land where crime goes unpunished, where fires burn unextinguished, where citizens wander the streets alive but dazed, where the future is too foggy to inspire any feeling but despondency.

According to Wikipedia, the Fund for Peace has four conditions that it requires to classify a country as a failed state:

  • Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
  • Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  • An inability to provide public services
  • An inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community

With leadership that stands to walk away with a nice big nest egg (and even job opportunities) if the place completely collapses, grand  projects in which they attempt to mimic the amenities of more advanced zones, an app economy that’s one-third owned by a single entity that produces crap and a marketplace that’s mostly knock-offs, a mass exodus of its own citizenry to greener pastures, and no one on the outside wanting to do business with them, BlackBerry certainly has all the earmarks of a banana republic about to go belly-up.

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