“It’s okay, we’ll be fine.” Those are the words that co-CEO of BlackBerry Jim Balsillie uttered when he was first shown the video Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone. They weren’t necessarily last words, but BlackBerry’s nosedive of a decline began shortly after that, and it hasn’t recovered since. A new book known as “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” goes into unprecedented detail about the company’s decline.
Mike Lazaridis was home on his treadmill when he saw the televised report about Apple Inc.’s newest product. Research In Motion’s founder soon forgot about exercise that day in January 2007. There was Steve Jobs on a San Francisco stage waving a small glass object, downloading music, videos and maps from the Internet onto a device he called the iPhone. “How did they do that?” Mr. Lazaridis wondered. His curiosity turned to disbelief when Stanley Sigman, the chief executive of Cingular Wireless joined Mr. Jobs to announce a multiyear contract with Apple to sell iPhones. What was Cingular’s parent AT&T Inc. thinking? “It’s going to collapse the network,” Mr. Lazaridis thought. The next day Mr. Lazaridis grabbed his co-CEO Jim Balsillie at the office and pulled him in front of a computer. “Jim, I want you to watch this,” he said, pointing to a webcast of the iPhone unveiling. “They put a full Web browser on that thing. The carriers aren’t letting us put a full browser on our products.”