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A man is silhouetted against a video screen with the BlackBerry logo as he pose with a Blackberry Q10. (DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with the BlackBerry logo as he pose with a Blackberry Q10. (DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)

Year in Review

The biggest BlackBerry stories of 2013 Add to ...

The Globe and Mail's most-read stories on Canada's most talked-about technology company, BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) of Waterloo, Ontario.

How BlackBerry blew it: The inside story

The most important piece of BlackBerry journalism of the year is in this investigative report, published Sept. 27, which revealed that:
  • Shortly after the release of the first iPhone, Verizon asked BlackBerry to create a touchscreen “iPhone killer.” But the result was a flop, so Verizon turned to Motorola and Google instead.
  • In 2012, one-time co-CEO Jim Balsillie quit the board and cut all ties to BlackBerry in protest after his plan to shift focus to instant-messaging software, which had been opposed by founder Mike Lazaridis, was killed by current CEO Thorsten Heins.
  • Mr. Lazaridis opposed the launch plan for the BlackBerry 10 phones and argued strongly in favour of emphasizing keyboard devices. But Mr. Heins and his executives did not take the advice and launched the touchscreen Z10, with disastrous results 
But there were other key moments, before and after, that relate strongly to this incredible piece of journalism of by Sean Silcoff, Jacquie Mcnish and Steve Ladurantaye. They are collected below:

Sep 20, 2013: BlackBerry takes huge loss as sales collapse

BlackBerry Ltd. will cut 4,500 jobs, write off more than $900-million (U.S.) worth of unsold phones and abandon parts of the consumer wireless market in an attempt to save a business in freefall.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company said the writedown will lead to a loss of nearly $1-billion in its second quarter ended Aug. 31. The company said the inventory charge is largely related to its Z10 touchscreen phone, which it unveiled in January at a splashy event in New York. Sales of the device have been so dismal that BlackBerry said its smartphone revenue will be less than $800-million in the quarter, less than half the $1.7-billion it reported a year earlier.
 

Sep 23, 2013: Fairfax strikes $4.7-billion deal to buy BlackBerry

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.’s preliminary offer to buy BlackBerry Ltd. for $4.7-billion (U.S.) sets out a potential rescue plan for a company that is losing the fight for smartphone customers.
But there’s still a large amount of uncertainty about the bid. Fairfax, which already owns 9.9 per cent of the company, has been given six weeks to comb through BlackBerry’s confidential information and firm up its $9-a-share offer.
 

Nov. 4 2013: BlackBerry-Fairfax takeover dies; Thorsten Heins out, John Chen in

After a year in which almost everything went wrong for BlackBerry Ltd., the smartphone maker emerged Monday from a failed auction with a new CEO, new cash and, perhaps, a new lease on life.
Investors punished the company after its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., abandoned its attempt to take over the business for $9 (U.S.) a share. The stock fell 16.4 per cent to $6.50 in trading on the Nasdaq market in the United States..
Instead of proceeding with a buyout deal, Fairfax and a group of unnamed investors – which sources say includes a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund – agreed to pump $1-billion into the smartphone maker, giving it more money to work with as it tries to arrest a downward spiral in sales and market share.
That move ended weeks of speculation that the conditional Fairfax takeover, announced Sept. 23, was falling apart.
A second group, led by BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, came forward with a highly conditional takeover offer during a dramatic weekend of negotiations that also resulted in the departure of Thorsten Heins, who has been BlackBerry’s chief executive officer since early 2012.
BlackBerry’s board appointed technology executive John Chen as interim CEO and executive chairman while it looks for a new leader.


Jan. 29 2013: RIM’s BlackBerry 10 gets some rave reviews

(Ed note: Who could have predicted all of the above when the year started out like this?)
 
In short, BlackBerry 10 is probably the best BlackBerry that Research In Motion Ltd. has ever built. And after years of criticism that RIM’s smartphones lack the razzle-dazzle of wildly popular models from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Apple Inc., the new BlackBerry 10 touchscreen phone – which The Globe and Mail got a sneak preview of on Tuesday – actually looks kind of cool.
But now that launch day is finally here, after numerous delays and some dark days for the company, the question is: Will it be enough to save RIM?

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