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Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,789 ratings  ·  285 reviews

In 2009, BlackBerry controlled half of the smartphone market. Today that number is one percent. What went so wrong?

Losing the Signal is a riveting story of a company that toppled global giants before succumbing to the ruthlessly competitive forces of Silicon Valley. This is not a conventional tale of modern business failure by fraud and greed. The rise and fall of BlackBe

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published May 26th 2015 by Flatiron Books (first published April 7th 2015)
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Start your review of Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry
OK, I admit it, I really love my Blackberry (still). My attempt at the iPhone ended so badly that I gave it to my daughter (who hated it as much as I did and promptly swapped it for an Android), so yes, I'm not a fan of the iPhone, unlike seemingly every other person on the planet.

So I've always been curious how a company with such an awesome product as Blackberry could go so wrong.

Overall this is a pretty fascinating look into how the fate of RIM played out as driven by the two founders' perso
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I worked at BlackBerry from 2007-2012. I was in a technical role, part of a small group that had a wide scope and interacted with many people at senior levels in the company. I had a close up view of the rise and fall of BlackBerry, joining about a year before the peak and leaving before it hit bottom. (Good timing? I guess so.)

I’ve been itching to read this, but was reluctant to pay the full price of $14.99. I’m cheap like that. Finally found it on sale in January.

It was fascinating reading - t
Bing Gordon
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a scary book for any successful company founder. It is stunning how quickly you can squander your company by over-confidence and lack of listening.
This is the story of a Canadian Company RIM whose first office was above a bagel store in Ontario. The authors tell the story of visionary engineer, Mike Lazaridis, and an abrasive Harvard Business school graduate, Jim Balsillie. Together they engineered a pioneering packet email device that became the tool of choice for business executives.

At the very moment Blackberry was ranked the world’s fastest growing company, internal feuds and chaotic growth crippled the company as it faced the entry of
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Losing the Signal is an enjoyable telling of the rise and fall of BlackBerry, built around the success and eventual failure of Research in Motion's two founders, the visionary engineer Mike Lazaridis and the super aggressive salesman and deal maker Jim Balsillie. The ultimate collapse is due in part to their poor management and bad decisions as they tried to respond to the rapidly changing landscape in the world of mobile communication. With the entry of Apple and Google into the mobile phone ma ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I never had a Blackberry. I never knew much about them, honestly. I knew they were called “crackberry” by the executive-types who couldn’t put them down, back in their pre-Apple heyday. I knew Hillary Clinton wouldn’t give hers up, and that was fodder for scoffing at her. I never knew WHY though, for either of those factoids. Now that I do, I kinda wish that Blackberry won the smartphone wars. They kept cost low, and security high, and they cared about network bandwidth, and battery life. Consum ...more
Maciej Nowicki
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Losing the signal is a story of Blackberry showing the nature of the technology industry. It depicts the company’s rise and fall which happened in a very short period of time. It was one of the fastest technology races from 1999 when the first BlackBerry was introduced until 2013 when its business collapsed. In this period the company went from zero to 20 billion dollars to today’s one billion. One of the most important facts, worth mentioning is that BlackBerry is a Canadian company which playe ...more
Sagar Jethani
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech
An insightful account of the rise and fall of BlackBerry. While its travails may seem self-evident to anyone with an Android or Apple phone, the author reminds the reader just how impenetrable Blackberry's market dominance seemed as recently as 2006. Ultimately, the founders, Balsillie and Lazardis come across as hopelessly inept at running their company-- a classic case of founder's syndrome. The demise of BlackBerry is a painful account, and McNish does a great job detailing every barb along t ...more
Joshua Gans
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. Every MBA/Business person should read it. Gives a great account. I couldn't put it down.

The only issue is it doesn't give you lessons from this and you have to work it out for yourself. But that was find with me.
Timothy W Cox
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This book is well written and fast paced. Technology is just a hobby for me but RIM's story is one of triumph but ultimately failure. Regardless of brand loyalty the deeper story was something I never knew and was an interesting read.
David W.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think every MBA student should read it and learn from it.
Powell Omondi
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well written book, well researched it gives a great insights in the rise and fall of Blackberry, especially the boardroom fiasco that we don't see in the public and some of the governance challenges they faced especially having co-ceos as well as having two chairmen of the board. The fall of blackberry is a classic example for Business school case study on the challenges in governance as well as product strategy and crisis management. I feel these were some of the key reasons that led to the fal ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read - largely as I feel I have lived through much of it - if only by adjacency.
The authors have woven together an entertaining story drawing colour from extensive interviews.
From the outset, the challenge facing the authors is to attempt to capture the great promise and heady times of RIM success without overshadowing the current sense of imminent demise. In this the authors manage a solid job - but there is always an implicit sense of 'this was the decision at the time, but we ca
Phil Simon
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
An excellent post-mortem on an erstwhile tech behemoth. I loved the reporting, writing, and insider quotes. This is a meticulously researched yet fast-moving account of bureaucracy and rapid disruption. Well done.

(Disclaimer: the publisher sent me a copy of the book for a potential review and/or interview.)
Michael Hames
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book provided a very good write up of the rise and fall of RIM/Blackberry. If you're at all interested in what happened I highly recommend this book. ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A tech darling and downfall, Canadian-style.

Light on the technology, and not as thoughtful or reflective as I'd expected, but it is a great walkthrough of RIM's founders, product development, and the turning points for the company and wireless markets.

A few lessons from BlackBerry's breakthroughs and near-demise:
- RIM grew, but never matured. The leadership, culture, and structure that help small businesses make it big are fundamentally different from the qualities needed for a big company to s
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Losing the Signal" is a very impressive cautionary tale about the emergence of the BlackBerry as the pre-eminent portable mobile device, and its subsequent fall from grace. As the BlackBerry is still widely available and in use around the world, perhaps "fall" is not exactly the correct word, but certainly it has lost its ranking rather precipitously, to be sure. The authors, Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, do a great job of outlining a series of outright failures that contributed to this decl ...more
Matt Beckwith
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a big fan of Blackberry a few years ago. This book is a fascinating look at how the people running RIM totally dropped the ball when the Iphone came out. The section on the Storm debacle is amazing. RIM had to rush the phone because they were too late responding to Apple's take on smartphones. They were arrogant. Very interesting how RIM basically screwed over Verizon, it is no surprise that they now have no support in the US. I can't believe that a company that was once so successful coul ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're interested in the Tech world, this is a pretty interesting story. BlackBerry was a major player in the cell phone and smartphone game, they had a seemingly-unbeatable lead when Apple announced the iPhone in 2007 and took the world by storm. The book tells the story of BlackBerry's amazing rise and their surprising fall. It was a small startup that became a $20 Billion company, matching Apple's start in many ways. ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The narrative was great. More than just a story about blackberry, but it's about how a company found a niche offering and the hurdles it needed to overcome. I also learned a lot about the mobile industry as a whole, and found answers to questions that I've had for a while? "Why wasn't BBM offered on iPhones?" You'll learn why. ...more
Steve Bookman
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written story in the familiar mold of a big business "Rise and Fall of" tale. Better than many in this genre as the authors show considerable empathy for the founders of RIM even as they objectively describe their blind spots and the onrushing challenges from technological progress in general and much more deep-pocketed competitors specifically. ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and captivating read.

Speaks of the dangers of growing too quickly, imbalanced incentives, and not ensuring product-market fit.

There must be a very substantial other side to this story, because I don't think that RIM would have discounted the necessity of understanding customer values as routinely as this book suggests.
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dramatic narrative and unabashedly Canadian. Fast, entertaining read.
Andre Ramsey
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Losing the Signal" is the Holy Grail of disruptive tech. You can't put a price on the lessons learned in this book. ...more
Alex Keats
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting read on how BlackBerry ran out of juice ... (¬‿¬)
Alok Kejriwal
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Losing the Signal - Book Review.

AN INCREDIBLE book by Jacquie McNish & Sean Silcoff about Blackberry (BB). (In 2009, BB had 50% of the US smartphone market. Today it's < 1%).

I would compare this book to Shoe Dog (The story of Nike). That story ends well. This one doesn't.

WHY you MUST read?

- The sheer GRAVITY of Business inside. Like Nike, this book details the MASSIVE effort of the founders of Blackberry to get their business going.

- The value of 'co-founders' (=they can complete each other's se
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew two things about RIM and BlackBerry before I read this book: 1) once upon a time, a lot of people had BlackBerries, and, 2) no one has one now. Since I knew nothing about the company, the book was a little difficult to follow at first because it kept flicking between the childhoods of the founders and I couldn't keep track of who was who. As the book continued, however, things became clearer.

It's an entertaining, interesting and scary read. The book is well-researched and contains useful
Diego Leal
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I admire strong leaders who inspire others around them to give their best for the company. In this case the founders and co-CEOs of this Canadian company led the way and created the largest Tech company in Canada. Great lessons in outmaneuvering the big telecomm companies and carriers, The Art of War concepts were well applied. Even good takeways from their eventual demise the need for a clear leadership structure, get rid of co-ceos who were not able to be good partners, get rid of a Board full ...more
Todd McKinnon
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. My Take-aways

- striking reminder of how fast we've come in mobile tech in the past 15 years.
- never bet against the underlying computing power, network speed, network capacity improving
- winners and losers are determined by big macro shifts and who's ahead of those shifts and "gets them right".
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Jacquie McNish was born in Peterborough, Ontario, shortly after which she moved with her family through a series of leafy suburbs in the United States and Canada.
She has spent her professional career in Toronto and New York with The Wall Street Journal and the Globe and Mail. She is the author or co-author of four books, the latest of which is: Losing The Signal, The Untold Story Behind the Extra

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We all want to spend more time lost in the pages of great books. That's the idea behind our annual 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge! It's...
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“Fred Vogelstein summed up iPhone’s impact that day in his book Dogfight with a quote by Google engineer Chris DeSalvo: “We’re going to have to start over.” 3 likes
“In the technology sector failure is often a precondition to future successes, while prosperity can be the beginning of the end. If the rise and fall of BlackBerry teaches us anything it is that the race for innovation has no finish line, and that winners and losers can change places in an instant.” 2 likes
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