They said what? Great quotes from Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis

They said what? Great quotes from Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis
Former RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsllie and Mike Lazaridis were on top of the smartphone world on this date, 5 years ago. BlackBerry's were official equipment for the power businessman, as necessary as the pinstriped suit. RIM's stock was a big winner and the future seemed bright. Then, the Apple iPhone was launched and it wasn't so much the actual device that led to RIM's problems, but it was how the two executives responded to the threat that sent RIM's empire crashing to the ground. Here are some quotes attributed to the pair and when you rerad them, it will probably give you a greater understanding of how RIM finds itself in the position it now is in. Sit back, relax and get ready to travel through time with the hindsight included, of course.

We start in 2003. "Cameraphones will be rejected by corporate users." – Mike Lazaridis, 2003. While some handsets, mostly BlackBerry models, do offer a 'no camera' option, that is more for the security of a business. There is no indication whatsoever that businessmen have rejected cameras on phones.

After the Apple iPhone was introduced at WWDC in 2007 by Steve Jobs, the long nearly 6 month wait for the device gave the media plenty of time to get reactions from BlackBerry executives like Jim Balsillie. "[Apple and the iPhone is] kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers … But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that's overstating it."– Jim Balsillie, February 2007.

Two months later, Balsillie is back for more comments on the Apple iPhone, which had not yet been released, "Again, I have said this before and I will say it again; Apple has done the industry an enormous favour because they basically told the world to expect a media player [the iPod] as a software feature on a good smartphone. As the leading smartphone appliance company and platform company, we could not buy that kind of validation for $100m."–Jim  Balsillie, April 2007.

Because BlackBerry handsets had always had a very usable physical QWERTY keyboard, RIM executives were quite sensitive to the fact that the Apple iPhone did not offer one. "As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users. Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that's a real challenge. You cannot see what you type." – Jim Balsillie, November 2007. "The most exciting mobile trend is full Qwerty keyboards. I'm sorry, it really is. I'm not making this up."-Mike Lazaridis, May 2008. Six months after the latter comment, in response to the Apple iPhone, RIM would release the BlackBerry Storm with its SurePress typing system that was supposed to feel like you were typing on a physical keyboard. The phone launched with half-baked software leading Jim Balsillie to say that smartphone buyers should expect future models to launch with bugs and glitches. While RIM said SurePress was here to stay, as you know, it wasn't.

When it appeared as though a market was developing for tablets, you would have thought that Lazaridis and Balsillie would have learned their lesson from the iPhone. "So the question you have to ask yourself is when it comes to tablet, what market or what opportunities, still, it's solving, what problem is it solving, and is it just a replacement laptop? I think that's a difficult one to judge." Mike Lazaridis, April 2010. Six months later, RIM announced the BlackBerry PlayBook which was launched with no calendar and, incredibly enough for a company that prides itself on its messaging technology, no email client either.

RIM had also been characteristically late to the apps game. And if you want to know why, just read this comment. "There may be 300,000 apps for the iPhone and iPad, but the only app you really need is the browser. You don't need an app for the web ... You don't need to go through some kind of SDK ... You can use your web tools ... And you can publish your apps to the BlackBerry without writing any native code."-Jim Balsillie, November 2010.

In April 2011, Jim Balsillie actually predicted the demise of RIM, in a roundabout way. His comment about companies switching platforms getting ready to die would now apply to...RIM. "No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die."-Jim Balsillie, April 2011.

BlackBerry 10 is delayed, RIM is awash in red ink and the board is considering a couple of tough options. Going back through these quotes, can anyone really be surprised?

source: TheGuardian



1. jmoita2

Posts: 930; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

Nice article... Will History repeat itself with the iPhone???

14. TheRetroReplay

Posts: 256; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

I doubt it, Apple has too many loyal customers

2. Yummy

Posts: 117; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Ah, so sad. :(

3. irvinkeith

Posts: 58; Member since: Jan 27, 2010

wow, talk about striving for failure.

4. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

The quote about transitioning their platform was quite on point. Balsillie made a proposal to RIM's Board to reorganize RIM around its services (cross platform e-mail and BBM) and jettison the handset business, but RIM was still drinking the handset Kool-Aid. Now, I doubt that proposal could even fly. In the end, arrogance brought RIM down.

5. jmoita2

Posts: 930; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

They just announced the Blackberry 10 will be delayed until 2013. It is the end, then. By then there will be no RIM to release anything...

6. disneydad

Posts: 114; Member since: Mar 26, 2012

This vividly highlights how difficult it can be for companies to figure out a market. While it may seem obvious on a macro level or in hindsight, it can be very difficult to call when you're in the battlefield. Interestingly, I remember talking to a BB rep. who came to my kiosk to hype their products and he was very matter of fact about what RIM needed to do. Unfortunately, they were too concerned with their enterprise side because of the recurring cash flow that brought them and it made the consumer side seem irrelevant.

7. steelicon

Posts: 318; Member since: Apr 02, 2011

Intel (processors), Microsoft (apps), RIM (messaging), Nokia (camera, I/O and Qt) and Sony Mobile (online multimedia content and hardware) should team up to release a bitchin' phone to compete with Android and iOS. Even for just one collaboration effort. And make it MeeGo/Tizen/Linux based.

9. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

The reason why the iPhone succeeded was mainly due to the genius of Steve Jobs. He has always believed in the need to create both the software and hardware as an integrated product because the consumer doesn't want to be the syatems integrator. Apple had an unfair advantage because they can write great software.

8. usamasheriff

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

is this canadian arrogance or plain stupidity like they did when they sent troops to vietnam for no reason !! welll i have been a blackberry hater save for its email client from a long time ! god knows why their qwerty keys are appreciated when the phone build quality sucks hardcore and battery has been pathetic ! it was shoved down americans throat till now again .. the email was the selling point !! good to know that a third class product company is going down and hopefully their patent pack would be taken over by nokia .. ever since the bb connect in a communicator .. it has been my dream to see bbm and mail in nokia built qwerty phone !! since nokias mail client is as good as samsungs build quality ;) and on the other note ,.... one more third class company .. making waves may go bite the dust ! i.e. samsung !

13. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

Canadians arrogant and stupid...NEVER. Isn't sarcasm great. It sure is hard to convey tone with a keyboard.

10. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

I dont disagree with the apps statement, the browser is a very powerful app with html 5 and Flash, and 98% of the apps we download are easily doable in either/or, but for some reason App developers like to get on the cool kids train of developing apps for specific platforms that dont offer any added functionality over building it in a platform-agnostic sense that using the web allows. For instance, facebook and twitter have no loss of functionality with their mobile sites versus apps. Some apps even tend to be WORSE than the mobile website, like Amazon.

11. tittann

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 26, 2012

BB failed bec they were to arrogant as Nokia did in keeping symbian . BB just get someone else to make your phones with the top tech then add your os . . As for nokia why didnt you just buy out palm it was a no brainer . Apple would have s_it its pants if you did that .

12. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

In response to April 2007: They could have bought it with 100 Billion. Oh wait, they did.

15. TheRetroReplay

Posts: 256; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Wow, those two CEOs were really arrogant. How they didn't see or refused to see the threat the iPhone posed is astounding. And companies who refuse to adapt during transitions are the ones who die, look at Blockbuster an Borders, they underestimated Netflix and e-readers respectively and look at them now. Borders is dead and Blockbuster is hanging on by a thread and Dish Network owns them but doesn't seem to care, like how Sears own K-Mart and they don't do anything with it. Rim is and still refusing to adapt to the current trend in technology, within two years, they're going to be gone because of their foolishness and arrogance. While I may not have liked Steve Jobs because of his massive ego, he knew what people wanted and knew what to say, how to say it and knew how to sell. Steve Jobs was the world's greatest salesman.

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