New Book Explores How the iPhone Contributed to BlackBerry's Downfall

Over the past several years, BlackBerry has gone from one of the top smartphone manufacturers to a company that's struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. BlackBerry is hemorrhaging subscribers and losing revenue quarter after quarter as it attempts to turn the tide by focusing on marketing secure devices and software to its enterprise customers.

An upcoming book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Losing the Signal, explores the events that led to the rise and fall of BlackBerry, and an interesting excerpt was shared by The Wall Street Journal today, covering the iPhone's contributions towards BlackBerry's (then known as RIM) failure.

As we've previously learned from Google execs, the launch of the iPhone, which stood apart from all other smartphones on the market at the time, took everyone by surprise. Not only was the iPhone incredibly different from its competitors, it also had features that carriers had previously denied other manufacturers like a full web browser and later, an App Store that had no carrier ties.

blackberryiphone

Image via CIO

One of RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' first comments was "These guys are really, really good," but despite that fact, RIM failed to see the iPhone as a threat due to its lack of security and the fact that it had no keyboard, features RIM execs thought would make it unappealing to RIM's core consumers.

If the iPhone gained traction, RIM's senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM's core business customers valued BlackBerry's secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, "was not a space where we parked our business."

RIM executives did not understand the iPhone and were "incredulous" that people were purchasing it, realizing too late that form had become as important as function in the eyes of consumers. In an effort to combat the threat of the iPhone, RIM teamed up with Verizon to create a competing touch-based phone -- the Storm.

Verizon pressured RIM into speeding up development on the phone, resulting in a product that was riddled with bugs and issues when it launched in 2008. Despite the flaws, the product was heavily marketed and RIM sold 1 million in two months, leading to a lot of unhappy customers who wanted to return or exchange their devices.

The Storm was a spectacular failure that impacted RIM's relationship with Verizon, ruined its reputation, and cost upwards of $100 million. After the failure, the company was demoralized and at a crossroads, unsure of where to take the company going forward and how to compete with the iPhone and other smartphones in a landscape that was radically different from what the company knew.

RIM was unable to fully recover from failure of the Storm and find its footing, eventually leading to the path that it's on today. "The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore, said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille. "We're grappling with who we are because we can't be who we used to be anymore, which sucked...It's not clear what the hell to do."

The full excerpt from the book is worth a read and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal. The book itself is coming out on May 26 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $21.

Top Rated Comments

kwikdeth Avatar
94 months ago
Lesson learned (again): carriers are clueless
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ProwlingTiger Avatar
94 months ago
As someone who made the unfortunate of buying a Storm (was locked into a Verizon contract at the time), I can attest that RIM had no clue what it was doing. The executives never managed to pull their heads from their asses and design something even moderately competitive. I kept the Storm for a whopping 10 months before switching to AT&T for the iPhone. The Storm was complete garbage. The OS deteriorated over time to the point that I couldn't even answer telephone calls and that was with minimal apps installed and plenty of free space on the device.

I would expect any electronics company to take at least 2 years to catch up to Apple when it enters an industry with a groundbreaking device such as the iPhone, but the fact is RIM had 8 years and couldn't produce ****, all the while insisting that business customers needed a physical keyboard. Sure some are probably still clinging to their Blackberries but that is such a niche market.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GenesisST Avatar
94 months ago
Steve Jobs and I cannot wait to see that day.

I would say "get a life" to both of you, but...

How soon is too soon?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rekhyt Avatar
94 months ago
Arrogance. It's that simple.

It killed Nokia, and it killed BlackBerry. It nearly killed Microsoft (Before they managed to recover under S. Nadella).

And it'll be what kills Google as well.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JoEw Avatar
94 months ago
Moral: Must keep innovating or you will not survive.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
94 months ago
Ooh, it's from the same people who brought us Rain and How It Contributes to Wet Grounds. :p
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

cook sept 2020 event

Gurman: Apple Preparing Pre-Recorded iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 Event

Sunday August 7, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
Apple has "started to record" its virtual September event, where it's expected to announce the upcoming iPhone 14 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 8, and a new "rugged" Apple Watch model, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says the event, which is expected to take place in the early part of September, is already under production, implying...
Apple Watch Series 7 Starlight Midnight

Standard Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature Same Design as Series 7

Friday August 5, 2022 7:46 am PDT by
The standard 41mm and 45mm models of the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature the same design as the Apple Watch Series 7, according to Twitter user @ShrimpApplePro, who was first to reveal that iPhone 14 Pro models would feature a new pill-and-hole display. Titanium will not be an option for the standard Apple Watch Series 8 models either, according to @ShrimpApplePro, but Bloomberg's Mark...
iPhone 14 Lineup Feature Purple

Color Options for All iPhone 14 Models: Everything We Know

Monday August 8, 2022 3:59 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models are rumored to be available in a refreshed range of color options, including an all-new purple color. Most expectations about the iPhone 14 lineup's color options come from an unverified post on Chinese social media site Weibo earlier this year. Overall, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro's selection of color options could look fairly similar to those of the ...
ios 16 beta 5 battery percent

iOS 16 Beta 5: Battery Percentage Now Displayed in iPhone Status Bar

Monday August 8, 2022 10:43 am PDT by
With the fifth beta of iOS 16, Apple has updated the battery icon on iPhones with Face ID to display the specific battery percentage rather than just a visual representation of battery level. The new battery indicator is available on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, with the exception of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12/13 mini. It is also available on the iPhone X and the iPhone XS. Battery percent...
iphone 14 pro max camera bump compared lipilipsi 16 9

Bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Bump Shown Alongside iPhone 13 Pro Max

Monday August 8, 2022 4:33 am PDT by
The camera bump on the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro Max is expected to be the largest rear lens housing Apple has ever installed on its flagship smartphones, and a new photo offers a rare glimpse at just how prominent it is compared to Apple's predecessor device. iPhone 14 Pro Max dummy (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max All iPhone 14 models are expected to see upgrades to the Ultra Wide camera on the...
ipad pro magic keyboard white

Rumor Claims Next iPad Pro to Feature New Four-Pin Smart Connector

Sunday August 7, 2022 11:57 am PDT by
A new rumor claims that the next-generation 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPad Pro will feature a new four-pin Smart Connector, an update from the current three-pin connector in the iPad Pro. The rumor from Mac Otakara, citing "reliable sources," says that the next iPad Pro, expected to debut possibly as soon as this fall, will feature a new Smart Connector that has four-pins rather than three. The...