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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.

Less than a month after speaking with the BlackBerry CEO, I got my hands on the first BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10, on a rainy, dismal day at a BlackBerry PR office in Midtown Manhattan. It was an awkward meeting. I was briefed on the device and the new OS. I spent as much time as I wanted tinkering with it. But the phone would not be announced for months, and it was even longer before it was released. BlackBerry said I could write about my meeting but could not mention any specifics.

I'm still not really sure what that means, and I was contacted shortly after I wrote about the experience with requests to change some things in the post. I refused, sticking with my interpretation of "no specifics." Quick summary: The device and OS looked great, but by that time BlackBerry's problem was not just aging hardware and software. You can read that full post here.

The following fall, I finally got something I'd been requesting for years: A sit-down with BlackBerry CIO Robin Bienfait. As a reporter for, the BlackBerry CIO always topped my list of wanted sources, but for some reason, BlackBerry never let it happen - until October 2012, when I met Bienfait and BlackBerry PR in a cramped, makeshift press-interview-room in the massive San Diego Convention Center.

Bienfait mostly glossed over BlackBerry's challenges and painted a serene picture of the IT department within her company. She also talked about mobile security, the modern CIO role and what it meant to be a woman in a field and role largely dominated by men. It was an OK interview, but after years of waiting, I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Read the interview here.

Then, a few months later, Bienfait abruptly left. A pattern emerged: Interview executive, get rosy story about what it's like within BlackBerry, see interview subject leave the company.

In January 2013, BlackBerry released the Z10. I wrote a lengthy review of the device, which I like a lot. But again, at this point, BlackBerry's problem wasn't just hardware or software. Read my full review here.

After spending a few months with the Z10 and using it as my main device, it was clear that it really was unique, so I highlighted 10 things it can do that the popular iPhone cannot. The post was very well received, but it didn't do much to help Z10 sales. It was also the last BlackBerry-related post I put a lot of time and effort into.

Since then, I just haven't felt inspired to write much about the company I dedicated eight years of my professional life to. That speaks volumes.


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