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Fade to Black(Berry): 8 years covering the rise and fall of RIM

Al Sacco | Oct. 9, 2013
Al Sacco says goodbye to the company he intimately covered for more than eight years.

This post has been a long time coming.

I started covering Research In Motion (RIM), now BlackBerry, for in 2005. That was less than 10 years ago, but the world was a different place, especially when you're talking technology.

No iPhone. (GASP!) The cloud was just a thing in the sky. Bringing your own device to work was unheard of. IT and the business were like oil and water. And the BlackBerry was an advanced business tool, used almost exclusively by professionals. If you had one, you were "special," so much so that many BlackBerry users wore visible holsters on their belts, not out of function but to make sure everyone saw their brick-like devices.

Starting in 2007, I focused on BlackBerry almost exclusively, It was right around the time the company released its first consumer-friendly BlackBerry, the Pearl. In the following years, I attended all of the company's significant events and the majority of its product launches in cities across America. I interviewed an array of BlackBerry staffers, including product managers, VPs and CEOs in fancy suites on the highest floors of luxury hotels. I attended professional sporting event and concerts with many BlackBerry folks, some of whom remain friends to this day. I gained access to celebrity spokespeople and "futurists." I led sessions and spoke to crowds at BlackBerry World conferences. I studied the BlackBerry OS as closely as I've ever studied anything and mastered every in and every out. I ingratiated myself into the BlackBerry ecosystem and built relationships with BlackBerry partners of all kinds.

In the process, I pleased, pissed off and placated BlackBerry and its PR department in equal measure over the years. I made a name for myself in mobile, thanks largely to my coverage of the Canadian company.

Today, BlackBerry is on the brink of a major sale, and the company could be dismantled and sold for parts by the close of the year. Whatever the outcome, the future is bleak for BlackBerry.

Time to Say Goodbye to BlackBerry
For a long time, I tried to come up with reasons to stay positive and keep the faith in the company. But it's not my job to smother readers in blind loyalty - quite the contrary, really. It's clear that readers aren't as interested in BlackBerry, either; overall traffic to my stories has waned along with interest in the platform.

During the past year, I received so many emails, pitches and even suggestions from coworkers about writing my thoughts on what happened to BlackBerry, and why "BlackBerry is doomed," that I lost count. For the most part, I avoid these types of stories. Frankly, they're cliché, and I don't want to kick the company when it is down. I never pull punches when they are called for, but I also never throw sucker punches.


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