AT&T asked RIM for iPhone competitor while it was Apple's exclusive carrier

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
In 2010, when the iPhone was still exclusive to AT&T in the U.S., the carrier turned to Research in Motion and asked it to develop a touchscreen device to compete with the iPhone, a new report reveals.

AT&T wasn't alone in worrying that the popularity of the iPhone could give Apple too much power, according to The Wall Street Journal. While AT&T and RIM collaborated to make the BlackBerry Torch, Verizon and Vodafone also worked with RIM on the first BlackBerry touchscreen device, the Storm.

AT&T and Verizon both reportedly turned to RIM because they 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.

The Journal's report recalls RIM's many missteps over the years in anticipation of the company's earnings report set to be released later Thursday, in which it is expected to report a quarterly loss. Among the issues at RIM was what former executives called a "split personality in the executive suite" between former co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

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.

BlackBerry


The company's own sales division reportedly forecast a coming shift in the smartphone market in 2010, according to people who spoke with the Journal. An internal research report found that touch-only devices like Apple's iPhone would become more popular than keyboard-driven handsets that BlackBerry was known for, but "the warning was ignored."

The report also said that Balsillie wasn't worried about the consumerization of devices in the workplace, as employees began bringing their own smartphones to work and asking their employer to let them work on those devices. While some RIM executives viewed the trend as "a threat," Balsillie reportedly didn't share those views.

The RIM co-founders stepped down as chairmen and CEOs of the company in January and were replaced by Thorsten Heins. But the company's fortunes have not improved so far in 2012, as RIM stock fell to single digits for the first time in eight years earlier this month.

RIM announced late last month that it expects to report an operating loss for the previous quarter. The company also recently announced plans to cut 40 percent of its workforce in an effort to slash costs and turn the company around.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43


    What a bunch of dirt bags AT&T must be. 

  • Reply 2 of 43


    Mike Lazaridis had it wrong and Jim Balsillie had it right. Looks like Mike won and RIM as a company lost. Perfect example of the stupidity of having co-CEO's.

  • Reply 3 of 43
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post


    What a bunch of dirt bags AT&T must be. 



    Why? It is just business. First rule of investing is 'Diversify'.

  • Reply 4 of 43
    jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 448member


    In any business, management must worry about what power and control either vendors or customers will have on the business and they act accordingly.  Or in many cases they don't act at all or make the wrong decisions.


     


    AT&T was a customer of Apple's that had very little control over how things played out.  Of course they were going to seek to help other hardware providers bring competitive products to market to reduce the dependency on Apple - should Apple decide to pull their support of AT&T.


     


    Now I would agree that it's probably mostly true that the management at AT&T are unscrupulous, but I think it may be for a whole other rash of reasons.

  • Reply 5 of 43
    sessamoidsessamoid Posts: 181member

    Quote:


    AT&T was a customer of Apple's that had very little control over how things played out.  Of course they were going to seek to help other hardware providers bring competitive products to market to reduce the dependency on Apple - should Apple decide to pull their support of AT&T.



    The problem with this behavior is that if your vendor finds out, they may decide to look for other competing channels to sell their product which will take customers away from you.

  • Reply 6 of 43
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    massconn72 wrote: »
    What a bunch of dirt bags AT&T must be. 

    So it was OK for Apple to talk to other carriers but not for AT&T to talk to other handset manufacturers (since Apple must have been talking with competitors before AT&T's exclusivity ran out or they wouldn't have been able to move as quickly when it ended)? That's some rather strange logic.

    As long as there was no restriction in the agreement preventing them from talking to other manufacturers and as long as no confidential information was shared, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, prudence makes talking to alternative suppliers obligatory.

    Ridiculous story.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,163member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post


    Mike Lazaridis had it wrong and Jim Balsillie had it right.



     


     


    I have to agree. RIM stood zero chance in hell of beating Apple head to head. 

  • Reply 8 of 43
    jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 448member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post


    The problem with this behavior is that if your vendor finds out, they may decide to look for other competing channels to sell their product which will take customers away from you.



    That's the way business works.  I used to sell to Wal-Mart and always thought they were the best retailer to do business with for all sorts of reasons.  All I heard from other businesses and friends was that Wal-Mart doesn't care about me or my company and they'll simply get a Chinese factory to make what we were making cheaper than we could.  Our business was smarter than that - we didn't just sit around waiting for the day when Wal-Mart (or any other mass retailer) came to tell us they found a cheaper source.  We did the work, talking to several Chinese factories, who at the time actually couldn't compete with our company.  If you're smart in business you're always looking at options for both suppliers and customers, because having all your eggs in one basket does not make for a good long-term strategy.


     


    It can be good in the short term (AT&T and the original iPhone are a perfect example), but eventually will bite either party in the butt in time.

  • Reply 9 of 43
    gustavgustav Posts: 817member
    This explains how self-entitled these carriers are. Here's a thought carriers - just provide service and stop worrying about "control." Sell me voice and data service at a fair price and that's it. Use profits to improve your infrastructure and keep a little for yourselves. Is that too much to ask? If you want to offer a subsidy in exchange for a contract, that's fair too - just be up front about it.
  • Reply 10 of 43
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    Ah, if only making great hardware + great OS + great ecosystem were as simple as asking for it!

  • Reply 11 of 43
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,066member
    Their goals in partnering with RIM were to prevent Apple from gaining "outsize influence in the market," the report said.

    How did that work out for you AT&T? ROFL
  • Reply 12 of 43
    jmbonesjmbones Posts: 4member


    It's called a free market folks.  In case you were confused

  • Reply 13 of 43
    shogunshogun Posts: 360member
    If my wife did the equivalent I'd be ticked off. Business doing it? Eh.
  • Reply 14 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,806member
    massconn72 wrote: »
    What a bunch of dirt bags AT&T must be. 

    Another way to look at it is that the iPhone was so good even skulduggery by the carrier couldn't stop it. RIM and Nokia, even with AT&T's help, couldn't come up with a product to compete. Now they are on their way out.
  • Reply 15 of 43
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,447member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post


    Mike Lazaridis had it wrong and Jim Balsillie had it right. Looks like Mike won and RIM as a company lost. Perfect example of the stupidity of having co-CEO's.



     


    I agree completely. If RIM had used their expertise in saving data and push to make it possible, at least with RIM phones to be inexpensive smartphones with say, $15 plans that averaged 200-500 megs a month of use, they would be in a much better position. Not everyone can go vertical and Apple is the best in the world at it.

  • Reply 16 of 43
    drax7drax7 Posts: 38member
    AT&T paid a four billion dollar break up fee recently, their management is inept.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 586member
    [B]AT&T turned to Research in Motion and asked it to develop a touchscreen device to compete with the iPhone, a new report reveals.[/B]

    That's like turning to Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church for a sermon on love and forbearance.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,554member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jmbones View Post


    It's called a free market folks.  In case you were confused



    Lordy we all get so tired of hearing that.  It's a lame excuse for bad behavior.

  • Reply 19 of 43
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    welshdog wrote: »
    Lordy we all get so tired of hearing that.  It's a lame excuse for bad behavior.

    I'm still waiting for you to explain why it's bad behavior.

    Businesses are free to talk to any potential supplier they wish unless they sign a contract saying otherwise. Since I doubt if you have a copy of the Apple/AT&T contract, you're not in a position to say if it's bad behavior or not.

    And if talking with competitors was forbidden, then AT&T wouldn't have been able to sell ANY phone but the iPhone - which was clearly not the case.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    jmbonesjmbones Posts: 4member


    I disagree, at that point they knew they were going to lose their exclusive rights to the iPhone, everybody did.  So what's wrong with them trying to find a different phone supplier? Absolutely nothing!!

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