The rise and fall of Blackberry, in insiders’ words and experiences

Bloomberg Businessweek cover: "How BlackBerry Became a Relic"

The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History is the cover story of this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek. The dead-tree edition of the magazine should be on stands by now, and the article itself has been online since Saturday. If you follow it with the Globe and Mail’s investigative report titled Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt (co-written by my friend and former Crazy Go Nuts University schoolmate Sean Silcoff, and published in late September), you’ll have a pretty complete picture of what happened to the company that once made mobile devices that were considered must-haves.

In the video below, Bloomberg’s Felix Gilette talks about the making of the article, as well as one of the most telling quotes, which came from Vincent Washington, who was RIM’s, and later, BlackBerry’s senior business development manager from 2001 to 2011:

One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone laughed.

The perspectives in Bloomberg Businessweek’s article come from reasonably high-up BlackBerry/RIM employees, but not any of the CEOs: not the original duo of Lazaridis and Balsillie, nor replacement CEO Thorsten Heins, nor current interim CEO John Chen.