Splendid investigative report by Sean Silcoff, Jacquie McNish, and Steve Ladurantaye, for The Globe and Mail:
Mike Lazaridis was at home on his treadmill and watching
television when he first saw the Apple iPhone in early 2007. There
were a few things he didn’t understand about the product. So, that
summer, he pried one open to look inside and was shocked. It was
like Apple had stuffed a Mac computer into a cellphone, he
To Mr. Lazaridis, a life-long tinkerer who had built an
oscilloscope and computer while in high school, the iPhone was a
device that broke all the rules. The operating system alone took
up 700 megabytes of memory, and the device used two processors.
The entire BlackBerry ran on one processor and used 32 MB. Unlike
the BlackBerry, the iPhone had a fully Internet-capable browser.
That meant it would strain the networks of wireless companies like
AT&T Inc., something those carriers hadn’t previously allowed. RIM
by contrast used a rudimentary browser that limited data usage.
“I said, ‘How did they get AT&T to allow [that]?’ Mr. Lazaridis
recalled in the interview at his Waterloo office. “ ‘It’s going to
collapse the network.’ And in fact, some time later it did.”
Publicly, Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie belittled the iPhone and
its shortcomings, including its short battery life, weaker
security and initial lack of e-mail. That earned them a reputation
for being cocky and, eventually, out of touch. “That’s marketing,”
Mr. Lazaridis explained. “You position your strengths against
Apple had brought a gun to what had until then been a knife fight. And then BlackBerry wasted a few years trying to turn their knife into a gun.