Apple Inc’s iPhone celebrates 10 years this week and a technology expert says the company didn’t aim to destroy customer demand for BlackBerry when it introduced the easy-to-use device a decade ago.
Daniel Bader, based in Toronto, told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition that the first iPhone was an unknown product. It was limited when it made its debut on June 29, 2007 in San Francisco.
Apple had to convince its loyal customers to spend hundreds of dollars on the device, and initially, sales were slow, he said.
The very first iPhone, which he described as little more than an iPod with Internet access, did not signal the end of the BlackBerry, at least not right away, he said.
“I think BlackBerry did that to itself, by and large, by not realizing what Apple was doing,” Bader said Friday.
At the time, he said, the CEOs of BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, didn’t realize that they needed a touch screen phone. They also dismissed the idea of a full screen phone as something central to their brand.
The BlackBerry Storm, introduced as a rival to iPhone in 2008, was a disaster because it was poorly designed and rushed, he said.
“Nobody wanted it because it didn’t really do what a touch screen phone promised,” he said.
Bader said “the secret sauce” for Apple was that the iPhone responded in the way users expected when they touched it and users could use more than one finger.
Once the App Store was introduced in 2008, its success was assured, he said. Through the App Store, developers were able to create and launch mobile applications while Apple took a slice of revenue, according to a Reuters report.
“It was so subtle that the way Apple moved into the market and stole the share away from BlackBerry,” Bader said.
In its first year, however, the iPhone was not a better product than the BlackBerry.
“It was very much an iPod that could connect to the Internet. I think that’s really what it was billed at for the first year. Nobody was really willing to take Apple at its word except for a small number of loyal Apple users. And at the time, Apple the company was nowhere near the size that it is today,” he said.
“If you think about it in perspective, the iPod was a success for sure. It sold in the millions. But it didn’t sell for a lot of money compared to what you think of as an iPhone. The iPhone today costs seven, eight, nine hundred dollars. That has just added so much to Apple’s bottom line.”
BlackBerry was once a dominant player in the global smartphone market, he said.
“Nobody thought they wanted a full screen phone because they had a BlackBerry or a Nokia,” he said. “So using the iPod and the ability to carry your music around, and occasionally make a phone call or send an email while you are on the go, that was really a way for people to get excited about this unknown category.”
Two or three years later, the iPhone did become a better product than BlackBerry, he said.
“BlackBerry had nothing that it could answer with,” he said.