BlackBerry was an astonishing tech success story — two Canadian entrepreneurs created the smartphone, and rode their invention to worldwide success and a company worth billions. As this pioneering book relates, they didn't do so alone. Their innovative ideas came about in an environment of expert academics, a university attuned to tech innovation, an available workforce of skilled enthusiasts, early financial backers and federal government officials lending support. As Howitt learned, BlackBerry's history is a fascinating example of how the right people in the right environment at the right time can go far — and fast.
Yet the BlackBerry story resembles another Canadian high-tech achievement — the Avro Arrow fighter jet. The tumble from the heights of success came quickly. The downfall left room for world tech giants to capture the lead in the marketplace BlackBerry had created. Apple, Samsung and others reaped the riches that flowed from the smartphone's invention.
But whereas the Avro Arrow was utterly destroyed, Howitt found that the BlackBerry story went in a more positive direction. As a corporation, BlackBerry remains a significant player in the software field. BlackBerry's co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have used their personal fortunes to fund major research institutes in Waterloo. Other BlackBerry employees are involved in a host of tech companies. The Kitchener-Waterloo area remains a dynamic, growing town that fosters innovators and tech-based industry.
The BlackBerry story offers many insights into how a resilient region can deal with both success and failure — and stay healthy as a place to live and work.
Canada has a lot to learn from BlackBerry Town.