Ex-BlackBerry half-CEO Balsillie: I knew we couldn’t compete with Apple’s iPhone

“Former BlackBerry co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said Tuesday that Apple’s introduction of the iPhone and BlackBerry’s rushed attempt to match it was devastating for the once iconic company,” Rob Gillies reports for The Associated Press.

“Balsillie said in his first public remarks since leaving the company in 2012 that he knew BlackBerry couldn’t compete after the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 and after BlackBerry’s buggy touchscreen device called the Storm had a ‘100 percent return rate,'” Gillies reports. “He said at the Empire Club in Toronto that the impact of rushing it out was devastating. He said Verizon, their largest customer, fired them over it. Balsillie made the remarks in a question-and-answer session with Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, the authors of the new book Losing the Signal. The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry.”

“‘With Storm we tried to do too much. It was a touch display, it was a clickable display, it had new applications, and it was all done in an incredibly short period of time and it blew up on us,’ Balsillie said. ‘That was the time I knew we couldn’t compete on high end hardware,'” Gillies reports. “‘It was difficult. It was a real shock to the company,’ Balsillie said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The BlackBerry Storm was RIM’s biggest piece of garbage ever – until they released the PlayBook, that is.

RIM is a dead company walking.MacDailyNews Take, August 23, 2010

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “BD” for the heads up.]


Verizon slashes BlackBerry Storm price in half in attempt to compete with $99 Apple iPhone 3G – July 20, 2009
Only one storm drags down D.C. Republicans and Democrats alike: RIM’s awful BlackBerry Storm – March 06, 2009
PC World: It’s official, Blackberry Storm is no Apple iPhone killer – January 27, 2009
RIM’s big response to Apple’s iPhone, BlackBerry Storm, falls flat – January 26, 2009
ChangeWave: Apple iPhone’s ‘very satisfied’ rating more than double that of RIM’s BlackBerry Storm – December 22, 2008
Yale Daily News: The Storm isn’t an iPhone killer, it’s a Blackberry killer – December 10, 2008
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Professor reviews RIM BlackBerry Storm: ‘Disappointing and awful’ – December 05, 2008
NY Times’ Pogue reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘I’ve got a better name for it: BlackBerry Dud’ – November 26, 2008
InformationWeek reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Tiresome, slow, severe bugginess and problems’ – November 24, 2008
TIME Mag reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Novelty screen feels cheap; steer clear of this storm’ – November 20, 2008
Chicago Tribune reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Can’t compete with Apple’s iPhone’ – November 20, 2008
Gizmodo reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Heavy, laggy, sluggish, unstable, clunky, and tiring’ – November 20, 2008
Engadget reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Frustrating, inelegant, uncomfortable; a disappointment’ – November 20, 2008
PC World reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Awkward, disappointing; a failed experiment’ – November 20, 2008
BlackBerry Storm: No Wi-Fi. No iPod. No iTunes App Store. No sale. – November 14, 2008

Former half-CEOs Balsillie, Lazaridis pocket $12 million in ‘entitlements’ from beleaguered RIM – June 15, 2012
Beleaguered RIM misses badly on revenue, EPS, unit shipments; Former half-CEO Balsillie resigns; CTO, COO also out – March 29, 2012
Beleaguered RIM looking for developer to ‘create exciting iOS enterprise apps’ for Apple iPhone, iPad – March 22, 2012
Beleaguered RIM BlackBerry loses top spot to Apple’s iPhone in Canada – March 22, 2012
Beleaguered RIM names new CEO; half-CEOs step down amid struggle to answer Apple – January 22, 2012
Beleaguered RIM’s half-CEOs: Portrait of pathetic – December 16, 2011
Beleaguered RIM’s earnings fall 71% amid weak sales – December 16, 2011
Beleaguered RIM misses on revenue, issues grim guidance, stock drops again – December 15, 2011
Citi on beleaguered RIM: ‘It’s worse than you think’ – December 2, 2011
Beleaguered RIM misses its revenue forecast; takes $360 million bath to clear unsold PlayBooks; shares plummet – December 2, 2011
Apple ousts beleaguered RIM’s BlackBerry as top business smartphone – November 16, 2011
Beleaguered Sony shares sink on massive loss forecast – November 2, 2011
Beleaguered RIM’s U.S. sales cut in half last quarter as consumers abandoned BlackBerry for Apple iPhone – September 20, 2011
Apple’s iPhone 4 absolutely slaughtered beleaguered RIM’s Blackberry – September 16, 2011
Beleaguered RIM hemorrhaging market share faster than some analysts expected – September 16, 2011


  1. I guess they had been describing themselves all along with their infamous disingenuous Apple gibe “Amateur Hour Is Over.” Along with the lines of Microsoft’s 2007 iPhone funeral – excessive hubris gets you dead.

    And the cruel chuckles keep coming. Along with the sorrow over all the poor devils losing their jobs at the hands of these clueless CEO’s.

      1. Which is what makes the cruel chuckles go up a few more notches. There should be a reality series called “Disingenuous Advert Slogans That Disastrously BACKFIRE!!” Blackberry should be first up among many other worthy contenders for the hubris imploding throne. Heh.

        1. This USA citizen suggests that you shove your anti-Canadian sentiments as well. WTF is wrong with you? Or perhaps I should ask what’s wrong with our species. Apparently, everyone requires SOMEONE to hate on. Why, I cannot fathom.

          1. Your sanctimonious moral preening is so impressive!

            Canada is full of leftwing douchebags, and they don’t have freedom of speech because of it. Liberals are detestable. They ruin our world, and I hate them because they are evil. I do not care if you like me, as you are irrelevant.

            1. Oh. My.

              Screams for attention:

              “I don’t care if you like me!!!!!! That’s why I post my opinion on public forums!!!! To prove I don’t care!!!! And then I reply to them!!!! To prove I don’t care!!!!”

            2. I post my opinion on public forums because certain opinions should be aired. I do not post them to be liked. This is not difficult to understand.

              Liberals are maggots and they live in their own echo chamber. They need to hear some amount of opposition so that they can be reminded that there are some of us out here who have not been absorbed into their mindless, godless, destructive bubble of self absorption and degeneracy.

              Are the above formulations really too difficult for your to comprehend?

          1. Sean, I heard this on the radio today. Be careful, it’s rattlesnake season in the southwest. Hospitals report a disparity in snakebites by gender. When they spot one, women shriek and back away hurriedly. Men say, hey watch this…

      1. 1) Please show me your data proving that the U.S.A. is the most despised country in the world.

        2) Please show me why I should care what people from inferior countries think – seeing as how they’re jealous, weak, and pale in comparison – and would be up shit creek without being able to leech off of Americans. And by the way, you’re on an Apple discussion site, and Apple is, in fact, American, just as one would expect.

        3) What sort of supernatural insight do you have into my travel habits. Support your assertion with evidence, please.

        Good luck!

          1. You linked to an article which talks about a useless survey where a group of clueless liberals said they like Canada. Do you mind telling me what that is supposed to prove?

            And WHO CARES what such people think. Canada doesn’t do anything important. No one is intimidated by Canada nor jealous of it. It’s not a country that’s going to make anyone feel insecure and envious. If the U.S. went away tomorrow, the world would crap its pants.

            Go back and read the three things I requested data for and tell me which one of those things has been proven by the link you provided. I was SPECIFIC.

            You don’t get to claim a phony victory with me, hotshot. Do you like your crow fried, or shoved up your ass?

            1. MDN! One star for “Very poor” is nowhere close to low enough for this poisonous little git, bereanbob. Could you please take the scale down below zero? Maybe to minus 5 which would equal “belligerent ass-wipe”.

            2. I honestly don’t understand what it is about liberals that makes them so precious that me describing the foul essence that is Canada makes them so angry.

              Okay, I get it: You disagree. But so what? Why must liberals always and only encounter opinions and positions with which they agree? And why is it that when they don’t, they have an emotional meltdown?

            3. Funny, beebop! Your whole presence here is nothing but a vitriolic emotional meltdown. The majority of what you write has zero intellectual or logical content and is merely name-calling, insult and swearing.

            4. Oh boy, lookie here folks! We have one of those guys who uses the “Faux News” meme!

              Gosh, but the cleverness of liberals really cannot be overstated!

              Faux News! Get it? Get it? Faux News!

    1. ‘Love one another.’
      ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
      ‘Honor one another above yourselves.’

      Hmmm. Can’t seem to find that one about, ‘Go forth and be a poisonous, sanctimonious prick.’

        1. No questions, poisonous prick – just…

          Judge not, that ye be not judged.

          For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

          And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

          Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

          Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

          1. There’s also:

            “Openeth not thine mouth, lest though confirmest thine prickness.”

            “Thou shalt not be a poisonous prick or I shall fuck thee up,” sayeth thine Lord.

            “If ye findeth a poisonous prick, removeth thou the poison and the prick.”

          2. Yet another text without context which is a prooftext for a pretext.

            (I really don’t know why I’m telling you that again. I know you still will not understand.)

            It’s interesting how you can criticize me and somehow those verses your spouting out of context don’t seem to apply to you. And yet you somehow think they must apply to me.

            If you think those verse apply, then apply them to yourself.

            The Bible is a big book, and you don’t get to go cherry picking here and there while disregarding EVERYTHING ELSE that the Bible says.

            And by the way, using King James English doesn’t make you holy.

            The Bible also says to hate what is evil, and Canada is evil. I really do not care if you or anyone else around here wants to hear that. The opinions of liberals are worth less than the dirt on my show. Do you understand now, you Biblically illiterate moral preener?

            1. I’m not the one who needs to live up to the words of your bible, because I’m not the bible-thumping poisonous prick who thinks I have the higher moral ground because of my declared religiosity.

            2. “you don’t get to go cherry picking here and there while disregarding EVERYTHING ELSE that the Bible says”

              No. YOU don’t get to go cherry picking here and there, while disregarding all the vile, twisted violence — god instigated or sanctioned genocide, rape, slavery, murder of children, and much more.

            3. Nicely put, mike.

              It’s fascinating how the spittle-flecked vitriolic ravings of this belligerent ass-wipe float on a foundation of superstition…. when that superstition SUPPOSEDLY teaches the very opposite.

            4. Why are you so emotional about this? Is criticizing Canada really such a big deal? You liberals are way too fragile. You’d think that I’d beaten someone’s puppy or taken food out of a baby’s mouth.

            5. “Imagine there’s no countries
              It isn’t hard to do
              Nothing to kill or die for
              And no religion too
              Imagine all the people
              Living life in peace…
              You may say I’m a dreamer
              But I’m not the only one
              I hope someday you’ll join us
              And the world will be as one”
              John Lennon

            6. Not only writhing, but writing. Just like Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and all the rest of the godless liberals trapped in Hell. Someone will smuggle their lurid descriptions of Heavenly Justice to the surface (Lucifer always looks the other way) and we will have new stories with which to scare our offspring into compliance with Divine Principle. The old stories ain’t working so well any more.

            7. While Very Utopian in lyrics, and something to potentially strive for.

              I think this thread of non-discussion has proven that regardless of borders, the human race is made up of persons that will always be at war. Have misunderstandings on history, text, religion, beliefs, etc. that will lead to outbusts and hate with no foundation. And others will react in kind and escalation will ensue.

              For the Anti’s, Steve Jobs was a practicing Buddist, but he never twisted it’s teachings or attempted to force a opinion. The best argument is to live your life as the example or what ever your belief and not judge or attempt to force you belief on others.

            8. This discussion, and others like it here at MDN, show how golden a forum it is. Similar flame wars at places like Reddick are usually snark contests, but here we have believers doing holy battle. These threads are valuable data for psychological research of the gunman condition.

            9. You do realize that you just used a quote (twice, and incorrectly i believe) that is from a possibly evil Canadian minister?

              Renowned Evangelical Protestant scholar Dr. Donald A. Carson ascribed to his father, a Canadian minister, this phrase which has become widely-used:

              “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.”

            1. Bereanbob, it’s cretins like you who compartmentalise and divide entire swathes of people using illogical logic that need to be neutered in order to stop future generations being contaminated with your defective genes.

              I really cannot stand people like you and your ignorant misguided views on how the U.S. positions itself in the world. It’s a shame they flushed your Mums afterbirth away when you were born… something tells me they flushed the wrong part away.

            2. Where were you all the times that Canadians have inserted themselves into matters of concern exclusively to Americans – presuming to provide Americans with their unsolicited leftwing “wisdom”?

              All I did was criticize Canada, and you treat it like an actual crime.

              Canada does not have freedom of speech. Don’t any of you morons realize this?

            3. Yeh, I was wondering that. Some similarity to the other major belligerent ass-wipe, such as think some little word play constitutes a reply… but different in the religious content.

            4. A couple more commonalities are:
              – Accusing everyone else of what he’s doing
              – Not addressing the points. Instead coming back with some confrontative, illogical and empty question.

              But maybe those are just general behaviors of belligerent ass-wipes.

              It’s pretty amazing to think what it’s like walking around every day as such a hate-filled loser. But maybe he lives in a community of like-minded mental cases, who all congratulate each other on what fine, racially-superior, christian patriots they all are.

          1. Dude, you are not an American. Americans are intellectuals who love diversity and don’t argue their ignorant points with blind bigoted hatred. You are just a beer guzzling, shotgun owning, country music listening, scumbag redneck hick. You’re a ‘Merican, and I can’t wait until the singularity puts you and everyone like you into irrelevancy huddled inside your churches praying for your dead savior to save you in his time machine to an intangible paradise.

            1. I am a true American and you have no authority to decide that for me.

              Everything you just said is why I absolutely hate liberals. You pushed all of the usual liberal buttons that are already deeply imbedded in the official liberal script. You’re scum.

              The United States does not belong to godless heathen pagans. It belongs to white Christians and white Christians alone.

            2. Fucking riiiiight, boorenbop!

              They have no authority to decide that for you — but you have the authority to decide how they should live!

              And yeeeehh for white Christians! Our forefathers slaughtered the former inhabitants and brought over throngs of slaves. So we are so wonderful and the land is ours.

              FREEDOM! LIBERTY! (As long as you know your place and live how I say.)

      1. Pray tell, who in the hell appointed you to speak on behalf of the U.S.?

        If Canadians don’t want to be badmouthed they shouldn’t have been such shitty and arrogant neighbors all these years. We ought to just take Canada over and turn it into our own personal ski resort.

    2. Can you really say that with a straight face when you have Monsanto, Google, Union Carbide and the king of all douche Halliburton? Plus the first thought that goes through “the republican half” of the American population whenever there is a conflict is, “lets nuke em”. THAT is douchebaggery at it’s best.

        1. Thanks for the entertainment bearenbob. At first I was quite insincere with what you were saying. Not sure when or how it happened but….now, everything you write leaves me in stitches laughing my head off.

          Don’t stop……please write many more comments.

    3. It is unfortunate that you have met some of our douchebags… it is true that some come from Canada. (cough, Justin, cough) Though perhaps making fun of the economic power of a country with on tenth of the US population is just a little bit “douchebag-ish?” Calling a country that has been one of the strongest allies since 9/11 a “douchebag” is really classy. /s

  2. I LOVED my blackberry. At the time before the iPhone there was nothing better. I don’t think it can be overstated how much the storm hurt it. It turned people off to the brand never to come back, me included. With Verizon, the largest carrier not having the iPhone until 2011, they gave Android the spotlight they would have never had. Blackberry inadvertently made Android as ubiquitous as it is today.

    1. Before the iPhone, I had a Razr, and one day I left it inside my car and the screen cracked from the heat and half of it was slightly visible and the other half was solid black. A friend gave me his old blackberry pearl, and I hated it so much that I gave it back to him and kept using my busted Razr. Luckily the first iPhone came out shortly after and I haven’t looked back since.

    2. You are right, Verizon did everything possible to derail iPhone and AT&T. Verizon as usual blew it. Very narrow minded screw you over company. Not surprising.

      But, the AT&T deal became a wedge. It opened up the carrier to fully embrace iPhone as a means to achieve a more equal position with Verizon. That meant iPhone got access to bandwith that Blackberry could never have commanded, and certainly Verizon would never have left Apple have. Picking AT&T was brilliant strategy and the reason we enjoy the phones and wireless access we do today.

  3. It seems the only companies that sat back were humbled from the start, seem to be LG and HTC. They tried and learned quickly. All the others fought with all the hubris they could muster. They lied to us and themselves. It’s quite natural to do this though. They thought they could take customers with rhetoric. There’s plenty of examples of this.

    Be honest & truthful, plan accordingly. You will live a very long life.

  4. There has never been a more obvious trading signal than the introduction of the iPhone. I knew it would eventually destroy RIM, but I just didn’t know how long it would take. I should have bought all the two-year puts I could possibly afford.


  5. I think the average non-engineer vastly underestimates the time it takes to develop a new product and manufacture it in large volumes. It took Apple years to develop the iPhone, plus they had decades of experience working with the underlying technologies. You can fault RIM for not seeing this coming but once the iPhone came out they were screwed. If it would take three or so years to make a reliable version 1.0 product that meant they had to be thinking about competing with the 2010 or 2011 iPhone. There was no way they could do that with a version 1.0 product of there own.

  6. It seems like many Android devices might be experiencing similar issues. For example, the latest Android OS can’t run on a large number of Android devices, many apps aren’t tested and don’t work properly on many Androids and many of these devices break easily, including the high-end models.

    This is a generalization, but most Blackberry users were business savy and probably didn’t think twice about demanding perfection. Instead of enduring pain they quickly migrated from the berry to the fruit. In contrast, Android users are either too shy to complain, too cheap to purchase an iPhone, or enjoy getting butt hurt. There eventually will be a tipping point with Android like there was with Blackberry.

    1. Actually, many Blackberry users tried any option except Apple though that was primarily forced by IT departments. IT first preferred Windows Phone until they realized it to be a dead end. Then they tried Android, and for the very reasons you stated, dropped that option. Most have indeed now selected Apple iPhone because it works and is secure. In the process, IT has lost a LOT of the control it once held; management will only put up with so much device shuffling.

    1. I don’t think Apple shared too much with Schmidt. Android at the time of iPhone launch looked nothing like what it ended up. It’s final form was simple, absolute, direct theft; however, Google was smart enough to realize what they had in January 2007 without that theft was DOA. Research in Motion had a lot of denial to go through before reaching that conclusion (about 2011).

    1. I read the book “Losing the Signal”, a good read. After learning about the two CEOs, and studying a bit more on the Internet, it appears they were very good together with each having a “fault”. Balsillie was the business man who ruthlessly burned bridges (which were then gone when he needed them); he destroyed partnerships (such as Verizon) for quick gain instead of having support later. Lazaridis was the engineer who created nice products within the limitations imposed; he didn’t think outside the box and didn’t push boundaries. Both were destroyed by Steve Jobs who had enough charisma to overcome his temper, enough business savvy to make partnerships as he needed them, and enough vision to not let others limit what he was capable of.

  7. 100 Percent Return rate. I sure hope there is a list of those reviewers that orgasmed with that POS. Remember those dolts and take their next review with a huge grain of Salt.

  8. and yet t the time there were people ordinary and so called analysts who claimed the Storm and later the Playbook were not only worthy competitors but superior in many ways to the iPhone. They certainly were superior in the speed they were returned to the manufacturer thats for sure. I can only say that we should remember that whenever we hear such throw away phrases against Apple products and their competitors today too. I came across a month old comment about how the Samsung S6 is better than the iPhone in almost every way and how Apple will need to up their game with their next phone. Hell it even claimed how great the S6 battery life was which one presumes their opinions were certainly not based on using the thing. And it claimed that Samsung would sell bucket loads. Clearly a month is a long time in hype be it Blackberry or Samsung no matter how much they may pay for the opinions expressed.

  9. the way that this article is entitled is fantastic:
    Ex-BlackBerry half-CEO Balsillie: I knew we couldn’t compete with Apple’s iPhone
    its cruel revenge to frame it that way, even though the title is 100% just stating the truth.
    and, by the way, it was this very man who is quoted numerous times as actually believing the very opposite: that he believed that apple’s new offering provided no real threat.
    only when is writing a memoir and trying to re-direct the truth can such lies be found.
    the fact is that he wrote off apple’s accomplishment and he co-ly misguided his company’s response to it.

    1. Be real, the CEO’s of companies can never speak the truth about their people or products in public. Though he could have said:
      “Apple is a tough competitor that has come out with a nice phone. We need to up our game to remain the dominant product.”

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