Thoughts on the BlackBerry movie

When the BlackBerry movie was first announced I assumed that I would have a professional obligation to go see it, but then it has a extremely limited release and played on zero screens where I live. However, the film has since made its way to hulu and I finally got to see it last week.

I enjoyed the film, but when you are such an expert it is easy to get distracted by the little details that the movie gets wrong. Still most of this doesn’t matter, and the one thing the movie really got right was showing how good Mike Lazaridis and BlackBerry were at network efficiency and squeezing a lot out of the limited wireless speeds available at the time.

The big thing that movie got wrong as the (widely accepted belief) that BlackBerry was doomed following the launch of the iPhone. BlackBerry’s executives were correct in that the iPhone would overwhelm the 2G networks, and BlackBerry would find itself capable of making a touch screen. (Issues with the first Storm phones were not with the hardware as the movie implied, but with the software the only got decent half a year after launch). What actually put BlackBerry in trouble was the later launch of Apple’s app store. BlackBerry responded with a store of their own but didn’t preinstall it on new devices and was too deferential to the carriers and corporate CTOs to make it front and center the way they should have. I know it doesn’t work a biopic to spend too much time on a company’s short comings in the years after the founder left, but for those of us who were advocating for BlackBerry to make the right changes it can be frustrating to see everyone continue to learn the wrong lessons.