Blackberry: The Inside Story of Research In Motion Hardcover – Mar 2 2010
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Quill & Quire
Rod McQueen’s new book features a foreword by tech giants Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion. Typically, this would mean that the main figures in the book have, in one way or another, endorsed the author’s work. In this case, however, the foreword barely reads like an endorsement. In fact, the tone of Balsillie and Lazaridis’s corporate boilerplate-heavy foreword is reminiscent of Jack Donaghy’s blurb for Liz Lemon’s book, Dealbreakers, on the sitcom 30 Rock: “Lemon numbers among my employees.” Here, the RIM co-CEOs write: “Rod McQueen has interviewed a broad range of people and endeavored to capture many of the events and turning points that occurred during that time.”
There is no reason for Balsillie and Lazaridis to be so reserved: McQueen has turned them into the heroes of his book. The story of Research In Motion is undeniably compelling and genuinely inspiring, and not only to those who seek to earn unfathomable riches. Lazaridis, who is the central figure in this book (not the better-known, NHL franchise-seeking Balsillie), is portrayed as a hard-working engineering whiz with a unique vision who is ultimately rewarded (with unfathomable riches) for his efforts.
McQueen’s admiration for the RIM co-CEOs manifests itself in comically bad descriptions of the two middle-aged men, as when he writes that Balsillie “looks slimmer than his 190 pounds, as if he’s built to go where others can’t.” McQueen is also prone to Dan Brown-esque chapter-ending sentences that are surely intended to foreshadow and build suspense, but will leave most readers groaning. The second chapter, which includes a reference to the fact that RIM, while still a young firm, declined an opportunity to be involved in building what became known as the Canadarm, concludes with this: “After forgoing outer space, RIM was about to take the first tentative steps to a new frontier right here on earth.”
With writing like this and an overabundance of RIM-friendly sources, the book seems, at times, a bit like an in-house production. Overall, though, the book is quite detailed and will prove to be a very useful resource for those who want to study RIM. Now that’s a blurb.
“The story of Research in Motion is undeniably compelling and genuinely inspring.”--Quill & Quire--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The iPhone was launched in 2007 and Rod McQueen’s book was published in 2010. The author had plenty of time to see what was the IPhone: a game changer. One page after the long quote above, he writes: “In 2009, RIM had 51% of the North American market compared with 30% for Apple, and 4% for Nokia, according to Gartner Inc…” If the iPhone had 30% of the market after only 2 years, this was the proof it already was gaining huge market shares. Why such a denial of the iPhone phenomenon? One must know Rod McQueen’s book is an authorized history, it contains a foreword by Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. As such, the author did not dare writing anything that could look negative about RIM and his co-CEOs. This is a pity because the book is otherwise very interesting.
I'm not sure what the other reviewer wanted except for maybe stats, charts and numbers.... you won't find it in this book, but what you will find is the heart and soul of RIM and why it has become a dynamo in todays SmartPhone market and how it all came about.
It gives the history of Research in Motion and its' symbiosis with Waterloo University and the growth of both of them.
Once you've read this book, you'll understand why it acquired a company like Qnix. RIM shows itself ready and willing to blaze ahead in yet newer and even more exciting technological frontiers. Research in Motion is more, much more than just a cell phone company, and this book will give you insight into all of that.
It's also an easy and enjoyable read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now, the book is good and it starts well. It does give an 'inside story' about the company and does a fairly good job of providing an overview of the company right from pre-inception to where it stands towards the end of 2009; it covers the early business approach, the financing aspects and transitioning as a major player with the introduction of BlackBerry. However, towards the end it gets a little light and fluffy, if I may say so. I would have preferred to read more about the technological challenges RIM overcame (there are pieces here and there such as the single mail box problem, Show Low project) and a bit more about how they successfully navigated the market with all those big guys around. Personally I would have preferred the last few chapters compressed into fewer pages; for example, I mean, I wasn't really that interested in knowing all the specific charity contributions of the early team members; so instead of enumerating that it would've been better if something else had taken its place. But, in overall, it does give you a picture about how RIM became what it is today. If you are part of the Black Berry cult you might like it more since there is a lot of emphasis on the personalities.
PS - Einstein's notion of God is a bit different... "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."..."I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."
I'm not expressing an opinion one way or the other here, but the author has tried to draw a parallel between Mike's faith and Einstein's thoughts about reality
You'll need to be able to overlook the continuous flow of gushing compliments the author gives the top two executives (for example, how one was in a minor car accident but wouldn't rush back for a business meeting until he knew the other driver was okay and the police had arrived). It's likely the two are indeed good people and smart businessmen, but the book is way over-the-top in patronizing them.
Having said that, the author's writing style is good and the details he brings out paints an interesting picture of the company's financials, funding, staffing, joint ventures and multiple product directions. The Blackberry isn't part of the story until you're past the halfway point. Even then, there's so much more about the cell phone market that could have been shared with the reader, but wasn't.
Business students might enjoy the "case study" nature of this book. Just be aware up front about what it is, and what it isn't.
I was impressed with how Mike Lazaridis combined his desire for pushing the boundaries of technology with the development of a successful business. You realize that Research in Motion is a company that was built from the ground up and then when it got to the point of serious lift off along comes Jim Balsillie whose introduction and effect on Research in Motion took it up to and beyond that next level.
This book is not a deep dive in to what it takes to get a company up and going and then turn it in to a success but I would say it is a brilliantly written over view of what it takes to do just that. It lets you know that while Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie are the main faces of the company there were also many other people whose names many may not know that were and are key components in getting Research in Motion to where it is at now. It also lets you know that Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie are doing more for Canada and the world in general then just keeping everyone connected with the BlackBerry.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Research in Motion or how hard work, focus and vision can build something truly successful.
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