The difference between Mike Lazaridis and Steve Jobs
Jonathan Geller, the Boy Genius, reports that Mike Lazardis was convinced of BlackBerry's superior design and feature focus, long after the proverbial ship hit the not-so-proverbial iceberg:
Picture yourself sitting in an executive briefing at Research In Motion. You’d hear Mike Lazaridis unequivocally state time and time again that BlackBerry smartphones would never have MP3 players or cameras in them because it just does not make sense when the company’s primary customers were the government and enterprise. “BlackBerry smartphones will never have cameras because the No. 1 customer of ours is the U.S. government,” Mike Lazaridis would say in meetings. “There will never be a BlackBerry with an MP3 player or camera.”
Compare and contrast with Steve Jobs who put sneaker to stage at WWDC 2007 and showed off the original iPhone, a device that eschewed the design of the market leaders of the day, RIM's BlackBerry and Palm's Treo line. Unlike almost everyone else at the time, the iPhone dropped the keyboard, and replaced the stylus with the finger and multitouch. RIM?
“When you hear Mike talk about the latest and greatest, it’s been the same thing for ten years: security, battery performance, and network performance. RIM has positioned battery life and network performance for years. People are not concerned with iPhone battery life,” one source told me. Network performance, to Mike, trumps any innovation a device like the iPhone offers. “Mike is convinced people won’t buy an iPhone because battery life isn’t as good as a BlackBerry,” a different source said. Mike apparently is in disbelief that people can use over 15GB of data on their iPhone and Android devices, and he feels that people will buy smartphones based on network efficiency, even though carriers with tiered data plans in developed markets love customers who use monstrous amounts of data.
Never mind that they eventually, reluctantly backtracked and shipped camera totting, MP3 rocking, Bold-ly branded, type-on-glass BlackBerrys of their own. They failed to see where the market was going, dismissed where it was, and seemed to only angrily react to where it had long since been. (And whether or not management has come to the personal realizations necessary to turn that around remains unclear.)
To their credit, Google rapidly switched Android from a BlackBerry clone to an iPhone clone. To their detriment, RIM just kept making BlackBerrys, the same ones that owned the world in 2006, long after the world had moved post-2007.
Steve Jobs, meanwhile, probably isn't waiting on anyone to obsolete the iPhone. He likely has all of Apple working on doing that themselves.