Lazaridis on Wireless Data: “…happened first in Canada”

Mike LazaridisResearch in Motion (RIM) has a rich Canadian heritage and is a household name with their BlackBerry smartphones and services. They truly make any Canadian proud to call them a homegrown success story. At the 2009 Canadian Telecom Summit, President & Co-CEO of Research in Motion Mike Lazaridis stopped by for an inspiring walk through their first days of existence and what he believes the next 10 years is all about.

RIM recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and also celebrated the 10th year anniversary of the BlackBerry. Lazaridis stated “…sometimes you forget your humble beginnings. What I really want to get across to you is that wireless data in many ways really happened first in Canada. You know we’ve seen wireless data around the world. We’ve heard of wireless data networks technologies and heard of the European technology adoption of GSM and all these other technologies… but what you have to understand is I was 27 years old, in Canada, when the very first wireless data systems were installed by this pioneering renegade organization called Rogers Cantel… while Rogers and other companies were basically trying to sell and be very successfully selling voice minutes, just voice minutes. We were at the basement of Rogers facilities unpacking the very first boxes of wireless data… it was brand new technology. I remember being given the chance to work with this technology…them asking us if we understood this technology and of course, 27 years old, got a business you say of course I do. They (Rogers execs) say ‘the documentation hasn’t been translated yet, it’s still in Swedish. You think you can put the equipment together?’… if you can put all this equipment together and make it all work, you get a contract! And this is how it really happened.. We got everything working and realized this is the future… the future was happening here in Canada, this was a very exciting time!”

This was the birth of RIM! Very exciting to hear how the company was started and how they began from scratch with a glimpse of what the future looks like. During the question period one of the audience member asked “What is your vision for the next 10 years?”. Lazaridis joked “We are in a quiet period” but then got serious and stated he doesn’t think its changed from their original intentions for the BlackBerry solution and its early devices on how they’ll be able to do everything you want. “This really is going to become a wireless wallet. You saw the announcements today in terms of cash exchange on these devices. But it really is going to be a wireless wallet. You can see this being the center on how you’ll get things done… One of the reasons why we acquired Certicom, who we’ve been working with for over 15 years, is to embed that kind of security in our devices to make sure that things like wireless banking becomes a reality, and to make sure that we have the rights to these security models that you feel comfortable keeping medical information on them, or your license, your passport, or your credit card on these devices, or your bank access on these devices. You can see that’s where people are starting to see where this is going. But it’s going to require a lot of innovation, a lot of discipline to make sure these platforms, networks and server technologies can provide the reliability and more importantly the security to be able to offer these services to the general public.”

Check out these video of the presentation here: