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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.

My colleague, CIO.com Senior Online Writer Tom Kaneshige, has been ribbing me for years about BlackBerry, asking when I'm finally going to admit that BlackBerry is "dead." In May 2010, we wrote companion pieces about the future of wireless. He suggested that BlackBerry was already dead, while I argued the company could still surprise a lot of people.

Well, Tom, you were right. And I was wrong.

This post is my official way of saying goodbye to the company, though I'm well aware that BlackBerry is still not "dead." I've unofficially moved away from BlackBerry coverage during the past couple of years, but I will continue to write about it when appropriate.

The following 20 stories are some of my favorite and most noteworthy pieces during the past eight years. They paint an interesting picture of both RIM/BlackBerry and my coverage of the company that paved the way for the modern smartphone and changed all of our lives.

Eight Years of BlackBerry in 20 Stories

2005/2006
I covered BlackBerry randomly before 2005, but the high-profile patent battle between RIM and patent-holding firm NTP, which threatened a major shutdown of all BlackBerry services in the mid-2000s, was the catalyst for my future coverage. It quickly became clear in 2006 that CIO.com's audience was very interested in the BlackBerry, so I started packaging all of my related content and writing any and all news I could find.

2007
In 2007, I decided I wanted to build my hands-on knowledge of BlackBerry and its handhelds, so I reached out for the first time to RIM PR. The company agreed to send me four BlackBerry Pearl 8100 smartphones so I could distribute three to CIO sources for review and keep one for my own purposes. That's right: Four devices. No other tech company has every sent me that many gadgets at once, and I doubt any would today if I begged. Imagine asking Apple for four new iPhones to review?

The resulting review was very well received and cemented my idea to focus more exclusively on BlackBerry. Read it here if you're interested.

2008
Almost a year later, in March 2008, I wrote about a report from analyst firm Canalys that concluded, "Nokia is the mobile device maker with the best innovation and implementation strategies, followed by Research In Motion (RIM)...and Samsung." Today, both BlackBerry and Nokia are being acquired, and Samsung rules the (Android) world. It's hard to believe that just six years ago, these two troubled companies were seen as leaders of tech innovation.

A few months later, I asked BlackBerry if I could interview one of its co-CEOs. After some convincing, I got that interview with Mike Lazaridis at the 2008 Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES), now called BlackBerry World. I walked into Lazaridis's penthouse suite overlooking Orlando and started setting up an awkward, oversized recording device, only for the man to make fun of me.

 

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