Back in 2010 when AT&T was still the exclusive carrier for Apple’s world-beating handset, the telecom giant — along with unlikely ally Verizon — reportedly reached out to RIM with a request that the now-struggling company make a touchscreen iPhone competitor. The reason for this, according to AppleInsider (citing The Wall Street Journal), was that the wireless providers
were concerned about the “wild popularity of the iPhone.” Their goals in partnering with RIM were to prevent Apple from gaining “outsize influence in the market,” the report said.
Clearly, that didn’t work, and RIM’s lackluster efforts (the BlackBerry Storm and the BlackBerry Torch) would ultimately hasten its decline in the smartphone space. Much of the reason for RIM’s misfortunes, according to the Times article, was the so-called “split personality in the executive suite” between the now-departed co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. Explains AppleInsider,
Lazaridis reportedly wanted to focus on launching a next-generation BlackBerry with a new operating system, while Balsillie wanted to turn the company around by licensing out some of RIM’s proprietary technologies. One report from April revealed Balsillie’s plans to use RIM’s network to offer inexpensive data plans and services to non-BlackBerry devices.
Regardless of how RIM ends up (Balsillie’s vision is probably where the company is headed), it’s interesting to see how massively disruptive a well-designed, well-supported piece of kit could be in an industry that — with established top dogs on top — was content to rest on its heels.
Hopefully Cook and company have learned a couple of things from AT&T’s and RIM’s dealings in all this: One, there are no unconditional loyalties in the cutthroat world of telecom; and two, there is no such thing as being too big to fail.
Keep swinging, Apple.
And keep hitting home runs!