When the iPhone was first released, it completely rocked the wireless industry. Not only was the smartphone extremely functional compared to other devices, but it was also easy to use — requiring just fingers to access files and apps.
Of course, Apple's rise in the phone industry was not welcomed by other manufactures, namely Blackberry. Some may recall Blackberry as the phone superpower before Apple — whose downfall is now the subject of a new book.
Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry was penned by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, and it details how ex-co-executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis dealt with the threat of the iPhone. The book is set to be released on Tuesday, May 26.
When the iPhone was released, Balsillie and Lazaridis had much the same reaction as just about everyone else in the world: "how did they do that?" Soon after, Balsillie suggested that the phone wouldn't make it very far considering that "it had rapid battery drain and a lousy keyboard."
Balsillie also reportedly thought that Blackberry would be losing AT&T as a customer, considering the company had let Apple put a full Internet browser on the iPhone but wouldn't let Blackberry do the same. After that, not much thought was given to the iPhone. If the iPhone was to gain popularity, argued Blackbery executives, it would be among those who wanted to watch YouTube videos and browse the Internet — not the business types that Blackberry was targeting.
RIM, then-owner of Blackberry, responded to the arrival of the iPhone by joining forces with Verizon. Verizon itself was looking to curb the growing popularity of the so-called "Jesus phone" and Blackberry – then the largest smartphone manufacturer – seemed like a good fit.
Blackberry's solution was Storm – really a prototype in 2007 – which had a movable screen. Users could press on the digital keyboard, pushing the screen down and replicating the physical keyboard that made Blackberry so popular in the first place.
Verizon loved Storm, and set a deadline for production. Fast-forward 15 months, and Storm was finally ready to be shipped. By that time, however, the device was a very flawed one. It had a slow browser and a tendency to freeze. In spite of this, the device was the most popular Blackberry smartphone to date. So popular, in fact, that Blackberry was not able to meet with demand — initially.
Soon, almost every single Storm device that was sold had been returned. It was a complete and total flop. Verizon demanded that RIM reimburse it for $500 million, but Blackberry was only able to piece together $100 million worth of concessions.
Blackberry has been bleeding money ever since. The company had a more successful last quarter than expected — but here's no denying that Blackberry is husk of its former self.