AT&T apparently asked Research In Motion in 2010 to kindly build a competitor to the iPhone, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The dirty deed took place while Apple’s iPhone was still exclusively available on AT&T in the United States.
“We work with all device makers to bring the best products to market for our customers,” AT&T said in a statement. RIM added that the goal was simply to create “a differentiated, unique BlackBerry experience for AT&T customers.” That sounds great from a PR standpoint, but the real motive was AT&T’s fear that the iPhone would make Apple far too powerful in the mobile industry. Since RIM was king of this territory before the iPhone in 2007, it made for a good fighting partner. The carrier and the vendor worked on what would later become the BlackBerry Torch. Verizon, too, was fearful about the iPhone for other reasons and worked with RIM earlier to create the BlackBerry Storm.
Neither even came close to killing the iPhone. If anything, they set RIM back even further. Let’s fast forward to today.
Apple is the richest company on the face of the planet and the iPhone is the best-selling handset on the market. RIM just announced yesterday a lot of wacky numbers for last quarter that basically suggest an imminent doom: a net loss of $518 million, 5,000 jobs slashed, a forecast of only 7.8 million shipments this quarter, and a delay on BlackBerry 10 until 2013. Analysts have since laid out the company’s burial plot.
The carriers weren’t exactly left in the dark in their attempts to limit Apple’s power. Android has been doing pretty well and poses a threat that the BlackBerry was never able to. In the end, AT&T might have had the right idea, but the wrong partner.