The plan radically diminishes a company that popularized mobile email and minted millionaires in its native Canada, but which lost its market to rivals like Apple and Samsung with disastrous results….
Mr. Lazaridis, an engineering whiz, founded the company in 1984 in Waterloo, Ontario, with a $15,000 loan from his parents. The company, originally named Research In Motion, set up shop above a strip mall and began by making products that sent text wirelessly to electronic signs. It hooked some big-name clients like General Motors, but remained a niche player in the electronics industry.
Eight years later, Mr. Lazaridis hired Jim Balsillie, a Harvard M.B.A. with a reputation for doggedness and a passion for hockey. The two would run the company as co-CEOs for the better part of the next two decades.
After experimenting with wireless pagers, the company launched its first BlackBerry in 1999, the same year it listed its shares on Nasdaq. Sales took off, and within five years the company had over 3,000 employees.
BlackBerry once controlled more than half of the U.S. market for phones that handle email and Web-browsing. It is now less than a 3% market share, according to research firm IDC.
Those gains started to fall apart after the iPhone emerged in 2007. Apple won over consumers and then invaded the corporate market, while inexpensive devices built on Google’s Android software spread through emerging markets. BlackBerry cut prices to try to maintain its subscriber base, but the effort faltered.
More than half the market? It’s a wonder that the DOJ didn’t bring an anti-trust action. But the real moral here for our Blackberry – loving president is that a company was founded with no official government “Technology Innovation Support program”, flourished and killed off the entire pager industry, then died itself, as better products came along. In short, the market is more efficient, and knows better than, a band of politicians and bureaucrats picking winners and rewarding their friends.
If Barry could still receive messages on his now-defunct communicator, I’d tell him so.