Research In Motion executives were left nonplussed in the wake of Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone in January of 2007, according to a story now circulating on the Internet. In all-hands meetings held by RIM the day after the announcement, initial reaction was that Apple had lied about or exaggerated the iPhone’s features, and the company thought there was no way to supply a device as small as a phone with enough power to do what Apple said the iPhone would do.
It’s at this point, however, that we must heap a mountain of caveats upon this story. The story originated in article comments by a poster (Kentor) at gaming site ShackNews by a person claiming to be a former RIM employee. In addition to his identity as a former RIMmer not being verified, his description of the meetings comes from after-the-fact accounts told to him by friends, as he had left the company shortly before the iPhone was released.
The comments were picked up by Electronista, however, and have spread to other outlets, but without the kind of clarification and context we felt was important. Adding that context for our readers to better understand the origins of the piece is, in part, why we picked it up for coverage at The Mac Observer.
Back to the comments themselves, the article on ShackNews being discussed by the its readers was little more than a holiday weekend notice with a mention of an iPhone from a staff member. That resulted in a flame war on the iPhone from Android fans and other assorted Apple haters, which is when Kentor posted the following in response:
I left RIM back in 2006 just months before the iPhone launched and I remember talking to friends from RIM and Microsoft about what their teams thought about it at the time. Everyone was utterly shocked. RIM was even in denial the day after the iPhone was announced with all hands meets claiming all manner of weird things about iPhone: it couldn’t do what they were demonstrating without an insanely power hungry processor, it must have terrible battery life, etc. Imagine their surprise when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was [a] battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it. It was ridiculous, it was brilliant.
He also offered a lot of insight on the state of the smartphone market prior to the iPhone’s unveiling, and reasons for how and why no other handset maker thought the industry was capable of producing and supporting a device like the iPhone.
The tone of his comments and the way the information is presented do lend towards his credibility, and it also stands to reason to those of us on the outside that RIM could have had such a reaction, but at the end of the day this is still a story based on reader comments. In addition to the passage below, Kentor made several other posts in the article about the iPhone and the industry as a whole. Do a Find for “Kentor” on the page to more easily find them.