Great story in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week about RIM. Two sections I want to highlight, but read the whole thing if you have the time.
RIM executives also missed some internal warnings. The sales division produced a research report in 2010 on the future of tactile keyboards, the thumb-friendly feature that was a favorite in the early days of the BlackBerry. The report warned that in the era of Apple’s touch-only devices, keyboards would make up a diminishing share of the market, according to a person familiar with it, who said the warning was ignored.
The touchscreen won the war a long time ago. It doesn’t matter that there’s still a vocal minority of plastic keyboard lovers – touchscreens are everywhere and kids now grow up learning to use touchscreens before regular keyboards. Unbelievable to know that CEOs in the smartphone business couldn’t see that.
RIM’s carrier partners worried that the wild popularity of the iPhone could give Apple outsize influence in the market. Executives at Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC approached RIM to work together on a phone that could compete with the iPhone, say people familiar with the matter. The collaboration resulted in RIM’s first touch-screen device, the Storm.
For anyone who laments Apple’s control, remember the above paragraph. Carriers, the companies that had the control before Apple entered the smartphone market, tried to hurt a product because it was too popular. Carriers don’t care one iota about users. If they did, they’d be ecstatic about the iPhone’s success, not petrified.