In 2007, the unveiling of the iconic iPhone by Steve Jobs was watched by BlackBerry leadership with bewilderment and awe. All the firm could do was sit slack-jawed as the flagship device of Apple Inc. transformed the relationship between cellular carrier and consumer and stole its market share steadily, the Wall Street Journal reports. Previously known as Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry had effectively been the pioneer of smartphones, but its dominance was eroded rather rapidly because of its missteps in the extremely competitive market that it had helped in becoming popular.
The report by the Wall Street Journal provides an insight into what went wrong and how the Canadian firm had scrambled to catch up to a sleep and pricey upstart, which eventually helped the iPhone maker in making billions of dollars and become a device that every consumer wanted to own. RIM’s co-founder, Mike Laziridis, was on his treadmill when he first saw the late Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, introduce what would soon become the iconic device of the company. The report says that Laziridis was mesmerized by the spectacle and could only say that the device was ‘different’. He began to wonder if the American tech giant was really onto something.
However, other executives of the company believed that the touch screen keyboard would eventually tire out consumers, along with weaker security and ‘lousy’ battery life. In addition, the company assumed that the network of iPhone carriers would end up collapsing because of the iPhone’s data-heavy applications. Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of the company had been reported as saying that they would be fine. But, these words were his last famous words because the rest, as they say, is history. Consumer wallets and hearts were quickly captured by the iPhone and RIM executives were flatfooted as within months of the device’s release, Apple had sold more than a million units.
Ultimately, any efforts made to blunt the success of the iPhone fell short of the mark. The Wall Street Journal reports that in late 2008, Rim released a version of the BlackBerry Storm even though it was aware that the phone had flaws. The design flaws and poor sales doomed the device and prompted Verizon in demanding $500 million in losses from the cellular company because of the phone. Meanwhile, the runaway popularity of the iPhone meant that Apple had the powers to coerce phone carriers into subsidizing the marketing and data costs of the device.
In a tense meeting in 2009, John Stratton, the chief marketing officer of Verizon told Balsillie that they wanted the firm to return them the money they had spent on fixing Storm’s problems. Eventually, RIM provided a series of concessions that cost the firm only $100 million. However, these moves didn’t prove enough to help the company in regaining the confidence it had lost amongst consumers and carriers. Even though BlackBerry made profits in its recent quarter, the market share of the company has dwindled and it has been bleeding cash for years.