by Rob DiCristinoAir, but angrier and more Canadian.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of,” says Blackberry CEO Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) as he listens to Steve Jobs’ 2007 announcement of a new hybrid mobile device that Apple is calling the “iPhone.” “It uses more data than five thousand Blackberries,” Mike continues. “Who would want a phone without a keyboard?” The aging gearhead seems to be in disbelief of Jobs’ audacity; he’s got some nerve, Mike thinks, trying to edge in on a product — hell, an entire market — that Mike and his team invented back in the mid ‘90s. Who does mobile devices better than Blackberry (known at the time as Research in Motion), the company that first took advantage of untapped internet technologies to bring beepers and cell phones out of the 20th century and into the future? The iPhone is just a giant screen? No trackpad? Third party applications? No network in the world has nearly enough bandwidth to handle it, anyway. It’ll never work. There’s no way. RIM would have thought of it. It can’t work, right? Can it?
And it is for a while, at least. The story of Blackberry (co-written by Matthew Miller and based on Jacquie McNish’s book Losing the Signal) is the story of genius tempered by hubris, of inspiration hamstrung by ignorance. Mike and Doug were visionaries, to be sure, but they lacked the business savvy and operational discipline required to succeed on their own. They needed hard-nosed sharks like Balsillie and eventual COO Charles Purdy (the ever-imposing Michael Ironside) to choke off the movie nights and pinball breaks that foster a delightful corporate culture but offer little in the way of profitable growth. But those sharks shouldn’t be roaming free, either: Drunk on success, Balsillie soon becomes distracted by a scheme to buy an NHL team while Purdy strongarms Mike into doubling profits by moving production to China (where faulty products “are made by engineers who don’t care,” Mike once said). Perhaps fewer cooks in the kitchen would have produced a better stew, a company fit and focused enough to outfox Apple.
Blackberry hits select theaters on May 12th.