BEST OF THE WEB: How BlackBerry met its demise

The demise of BlackBerry is long-expected, but it’s certainly nothing to gloat over. The company’s plan to go private after a tortured few years is the stuff business courses will be teaching for years.

But some of the details reveal more discord than some originally imagined. 

Over at The Globe and Mail, there’s a new and extensive look at the company and how it descended to its current state – with some shocking revelations about what went on behind the scenes. 

As the piece describes, chief executive Thorsten Heins sat down with the company’s directors last year to discuss the launch of the Z10. But one director spoke out at this meeting – the former chief Michael Lazaridis. 

That board room confrontation was only the tip of the iceberg. Months before, the two men had been in another argument with co-CEO Jim Balsillie. 

“Inside RIM, the brash Mr. Balsillie had championed a bold strategy to re-establish the company’s place at the forefront of mobile communications.”

“The plan was to push wireless carriers to adopt RIM’s popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging service as a replacement for their short text messaging system (SMS) applications – no matter what kind of phone their customers used.”

Of course, the company didn’t adopt the plan, and he left. And in a statement to the Globe and Mail, he reveals his true feelings – “It’s really hurting me”.

“I can’t imagine what the employees must be thinking. Everyone is talking about the most likely scenario being that it will be broken up and sold off for parts. What will happen to the Waterloo region, or Canada? What company will take its place?”

These revelations are just the beginning. There’s plenty more – like the story about how Verizon approached BlackBerry to create an iPhone killer, which completely failed on reaching the market. 

“RIM executives figured they had time to reinvent the company. For years they had successfully fended off a host of challengers.”

“Apple’s aggressive negotiating tactics had alienated many carriers, and the iPhone didn’t seem like a threat to RIM’s most loyal base of customers – businesses and governments. They would sustain RIM while it fixed its technology issues.”

In the end, BlackBerry was just too slow.

And it’s cost them everything.

A new type of online course 

Online courses have been taking the internet by storm, and over at The New York Times, the publication delves into the trend – with a solid look at three major websites offering the free courses. 

This is a good resource for getting started with a free course, with descriptions for each. As the piece describes, these courses are becoming the next big thing in education – so you might want to pay attention to how they’re doing things.

“For a decade, people have been asking, ‘How does the Internet change higher education,’ ” said Edward B. Rock, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is the institution’s senior adviser on open course initiatives. “This is the beginning. It opens up all sorts of possibilities.”

Five ways cities are using big data

Businesses are always talking about how they’re using big data to their own advantage – but what about cities? 

This piece at Mashable delves into the latest ways cities like New York are using data to help make their services run better, and to overall make a better living experience for everyone. 


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