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BlackBerry: The Inside Story of Research In Motion

by Rod McQueen

Rod McQueen’s new book features a foreword by tech giants Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion. Typically, this would mean that the main figures in the book have, in one way or another, endorsed the author’s work. In this case, however, the foreword barely reads like an endorsement. In fact, the tone of Balsillie and Lazaridis’s corporate boilerplate-heavy foreword is reminiscent of Jack Donaghy’s blurb for Liz Lemon’s book, Dealbreakers, on the sitcom 30 Rock: “Lemon numbers among my employees.” Here, the RIM co-CEOs write: “Rod McQueen has interviewed a broad range of people and endeavored to capture many of the events and turning points that occurred during that time.”

There is no reason for Balsillie and Lazaridis to be so reserved: McQueen has turned them into the heroes of his book. The story of Research In Motion is undeniably compelling and genuinely inspiring, and not only to those who seek to earn unfathomable riches. Lazaridis, who is the central figure in this book (not the better-known, NHL franchise-seeking Balsillie), is portrayed as a hard-working engineering whiz with a unique vision who is ultimately rewarded (with unfathomable riches) for his efforts.

McQueen’s admiration for the RIM co-CEOs manifests itself in comically bad descriptions of the two middle-aged men, as when he writes that Balsillie “looks slimmer than his 190 pounds, as if he’s built to go where others can’t.” McQueen is also prone to Dan Brown-esque chapter-ending sentences that are surely intended to foreshadow and build suspense, but will leave most readers groaning. The second chapter, which includes a reference to the fact that RIM, while still a young firm, declined an opportunity to be involved in building what became known as the Canadarm, concludes with this: “After forgoing outer space, RIM was about to take the first tentative steps to a new frontier right here on earth.”

With writing like this and an overabundance of RIM-friendly sources, the book seems, at times, a bit like an in-house production. Overall, though, the book is quite detailed and will prove to be a very useful resource for those who want to study RIM. Now that’s a blurb.