RIM reportedly thought original iPhone impossible

A Shacknews poster claiming to be a former employee of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion has revealed panic within the organisation the day after Apple's first iPhone was announced.

The poster, going by the handle Kentor, claimed to have heard from former RIM colleagues that multiple ''all-hands'' meetings were held on January 10, 2007, a day after the iPhone was unveiled on stage by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In a nutshell, RIM believed Apple's new wonder device could not possibly live up to the hype, with employees allegedly stating that the iPhone would need an ''insanely power hungry processor'' to run what was then version 1.0 of iOS (then known as iPhone OS).

''Imagine their surprise [at RIM] when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it,'' he said. Microsoft employees were also said to have had similar reactions at the time. Kentor attributed RIM's alleged shock to the company's background.

''Coming from a two-way pager background, RIM decided that phones should have two-way push synchronization of pretty much everything that Exchange provided along with a limited WML browser. The general thought was that phones would never have sufficient power density or radios sufficient bandwidth to allow anything more. That was incredibly predictably wrong, but it's how things went down,'' he said.

Now, it's worth taking all Kentor's claims with a grain of salt. As of 3AM EST, his original post on Shacknews was unavailable, though iClarified appeared to have grabbed a large part of the post before it disappeared. It also bears questioning why an alleged former employee waited nearly four years to reveal such insider information.

What is clear is that four years on from the original iPhone, RIM's market position is far from steady. A November 2010 Gartner study found that Apple's share of the North American smartphone market had surpassed RIM's, despite a slight rise in market share for the BlackBerry-maker. A month earlier, Mr Jobs confidently stated during an earnings call that he did not see RIM catching up with Apple ''in the foreseeable future.'' RIM may be hoping its PlayBook tablet will help change the company's fortunes.

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