May 25, 2024

BLACKBERRY (2023) – The rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone

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I remember before the days of the iPhone and Android phones, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, we had the Blackberry as our trusted handheld mobile device that can not only be used as a phone but also keep you connected to your office e-mail system. They also had a pretty charming built-in keyboard that was a joy to use. I enjoyed quickly typing my messages with my thumbs, and I rarely make as many typos as I do with today’s touch screen keyboards.

Here is a fascinating movie that shares a little-known story of rise and fall of the Blackberry device. I had no idea that this was actually the brainchild of a bunch of typical computer nerds. Specially the pair of Mike Lazaridis (played by Jay Baruchel) and his best friend Douglas Fregin (played by Matt Douglas who happens to be the director of the movie). They began with a small and unprofitable company called RIM (Research in Motion) in Waterloo, Canada. They had a concept for a cellular gadget that could act as a phone as well as a message system that included e-mail. This was something fresh and innovative at the time, comparable to the birth of the smartphone. As luck would have it, their idea drew the attention of businessman Jim Balsillie (played by Glenn Howerton), who decided to put his savings in RIM and help it succeed. Jim’s cutthroat personality stood in stark contrast to Mike and Doug’s easygoing and straightforward demeanor. This polarity succeeded, and the Blackberry corporation skyrocketed to global success.

The film works because of a superb ensemble and a directing technique that shows us the facts while leaving the viewers to make their own judgement. Glenn Howerton excels as Jim, the forceful and frequently unpleasant business partner who virtually thrust himself into the company as CEO. There are no villains in this story. Just ordinary folks doing their best to attain their goals in their own unique way. The product’s inevitable decline in the face of the iPhone and other smartphone devices that could accomplish the same and more than what Blackberry devices started was terrible for the firm, and it did not stand a hope of survival.

Another instance when reality can be more intriguing than dream. Despite having the world’s first smartphone, Blackberry was unable to maintain its position in an industry where innovation and technology are continuously changing. The Blackberry narrative is significant because it reminds us all of what the modern world has become and the importance of being prepared for and accepting constant change in our lives.

 

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