While I don’t blame Research In Motion Ltd. co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie for being angry about Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs’ accusation of antenna issues with the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the two RIM executives can’t be surprised that Apple chose to play that card.
And instead of joining its smart phone rivals such as Samsung, HTC Corp., Nokia Corp. and Motorola Corp. to fire back at Apple, perhaps RIM should acknowledge the deeper issue: that while no smart phone vendor is perfect, at least some are trying to be.
Jump into my DeLorean for a second and travel back with me to late 2008 and the launch of RIM’s first touchscreen device, the BlackBerry Storm. Many critics charged the phone with being awkward, buggy, and ultimately, very disappointing. Nominate someone you work with for a ComputerWorld Canada IT Leadership Award
Shortly before the device reached shelves, RIM was already promising a software update “within weeks.” The company expected the bugs because they were trying to get the phone out before the holiday shopping season.
In response to all the negative reviews, Balsillie said the “new reality” of smart phones is they will ship buggy and be fixed by software updates later.
Now let’s tie this in to Apple’s current troubles.
After countless complaints from the user community and several high-profile reviewers, Apple’s much anticipated response to “Antennagate” was poorly executed. At an event where Apple should have stuck to offering up a free fix to the problem and apologize for the problem, the company did what too many companies do and started making excuses.
In a possible attempt to deflect the issue away from Apple, Jobs singled out phones from BlackBerry, Samsung and HTC to argue that even competing companies have been plagued with reception issues caused by physical blockages.
All the companies mentioned took issue with the accusations, but RIM’s response — which referred to Apple’s actions as “unacceptable” — jumped out at me.
“Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation,” according to a statement, co-signed by both Lazaridis and Balsillie.