Remember BlackBerry? The swift rise of the company that produced the first smartphone? The rapid descent into oblivion?
“Remember that phone that everyone owned before an iPhone? This is how they got started and how they got destroyed.”
That’s how director Matt Johnson describes his movie BlackBerry, co-written with producer Matthew Miller. The pair are telling the uniquely Canadian story of the world’s first smartphone, the BlackBerry, created by Research in Motion (RIM).
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Basillie aren’t household names on the level of Steve Jobs, but in 2002, they released the world’s first smartphone, which would go on to revolutionize the way we communicate and end up “in the hands of every Fortune 500 executive you can find,” as Glenn Howerton (playing Jim Balsillie) puts it in the trailer for the movie BlackBerry.
Balsillie is the business-minded shark who pairs up with founders Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Doug Fregin (Matt Johnson, who also directs) to launch the product to world-dominating success, and the film treats their rise (and teases their iPhone-enabled fall) like a mid-’90s-to-Y2K period piece. Baruchel calls it a film about “flying too close to the sun on wings made of … smartphones?”
“Recounting the Canadian company’s humble yet chaotic rise to market dominance, BlackBerry is a darkly comedic telling of the tragic tale of a Canadian company that revolutionized the way we communicate, before swiftly plummeting into obsolescence,” according to production company Elevation Pictures.
Canadian actor Jay Baruchel plays Mike Lazaridis, the brain behind the BlackBerry, alongside Johnson, who plays his business partner and best friend Douglas Fregin.
The trailer begins with the pair of co-founders screeching into a parking lot in 1996, late for a meeting with investor Jim Balsillie, who would eventually agree to join the company with the money and business know-how needed to sell their invention to the world.
“Ok, picture a cellphone and an email machine all in one thing,” Fregin pitches Balsillie, played by Glenn Howerton.
“There is a free, wireless internet signal all across North America and nobody has figured out how to use it.”
“Seemingly overnight the three men revolutionize the way people work, communicate and connect. Celebrities, politicians and businessmen are now addicted to their Blackberrys,” writes Elevation Pictures.
“The company’s value skyrockets, yet within a few short years shady business dealings, personal grievances, and, perhaps most dangerously, the iPhone, threaten the company’s incredible success.”
Then came the iPhone
After the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, BlackBerry arrogantly didn’t take the iPhone seriously, moved too slowly to respond to competitors, resulting in a crushing and humiliating retreat from the market that it helped launch.
BlackBerry makes the case that there was plenty of internal turmoil within the company that contributed to its downfall.