Former BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) Insiders Reveal Execution Blunders

BlackBerry Ottawa

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s former executives like Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have mostly been quiet since they left the company. But in a new book detailing the rise and fall of BlackBerry, the two shared their views. They talked to The Globe and Mail reporters Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

A book detailing the rise and spectacular fall of BlackBerry will be published this week in the U.S. In the book, former BlackBerry executives broke their long silence and shared their views of the company in its heydays and how poor execution almost took the company out of business.

It was Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) with its iPhone that nearly wrote BlackBerry’s obituary. The reason Apple achieved perhaps more than it hoped for was because the guys at BlackBerry dismissed iPhone as a device dead on arrival.

The iPhone disruption

According to Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, BlackBerry somehow blundered by dismissing the iPhone at a time when organizations like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) quickly realized that things had changed and adjusted to the new reality. BlackBerry didn’t have a near-term strategy to counter the iPhone.

One of the major issues disclosed by the former BlackBerry executives is how they felt that the iPhone couldn’t go anywhere because its design could not be sustained by the carrier networks. BlackBerry was loved by carriers for its handsets that work optimally with their networks. However, little did they know that high consumer demand would push carriers to upgrade their networks and such a move would favor the iPhone.

Verizon pressure

Since the iPhone was first being offered exclusively through AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) pressured BlackBerry to come up with a handset to counter the iPhone. BlackBerry developed the BlackBerry Storm, which was hurriedly done and missed the point by a significant margin, becoming a disaster for the company in the end.

When the Storm failed, Verizon demand $500 million in compensation from BBRY to cover the losses. BlackBerry objected but later paid more than $100 million to Verizon to cover various damages.
With the iPhone, Apple not only succeeded in shrinking the fortunes of rivals like BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), but has also been able to dilute the influence of carriers. That can be seen in the way smartphone users spend a lot of money on apps and other content than the carrier bill.

The shaken BlackBerry

The BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) that has been left to John Chen to steer is a company that is still struggling to stabilize revenue. As much as Chen seems to be doing things the right way, it will take quite some time before the company can rely on new revenue from software to offset the impact from the hardware market.