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What iPhone skeptics said five years ago

On the fifth anniversary of the iPhone’s release, we look back at what some skeptics had to say about the seminal device. Believe it or not, the iPhone’s success wasn’t a given.

Five years ago today, the first iPhone went on sale. The device propelled Apple to its current standing as the world’s most successful technology company, and it helped usher in the era of the consumerization of IT.

With all of this success, it’s easy to forget that the iPhone was a risky proposition for Apple. Some observers said its lack of a physical keyboard, for example, would be a death knell. Plenty of iPhone skeptics -- competitors, future partners and even independent analysts -- had serious doubts about other issues, as well.

In this week’s Consumerization Quotes, we take a look back at what four iPhone skeptics had to say in 2007:

“In terms of a sort of a sea change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.”
Jim Balsillie, co-CEO, Research In Motion

Back in 2007, Research In Motion (RIM) ruled the smartphone roost with its BlackBerry devices, and Balsillie downplayed the iPhone’s threat in an interview with Reuters. Perhaps he should have taken Apple more seriously from the get-go; today, RIM’s market share and stock price are in a free fall, its new BlackBerry 10 operating system is delayed and the company replaced Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in January.

“There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

In an interview with USA Today, Ballmer seemed to view the iPhone as a Mac-like product that would develop a small but passionate customer base. He also jabbed Apple for defining its “phone experience just by music.” The iPhone has evolved to be much more than an iPod with a phone, and the two Microsoft products Ballmer discussed in the interview -- the Zune and Windows Mobile -- have both been discontinued.

“The iPhone product is something we are happy we aren't the first to market with.”
Danny Strigl, president and chief operating officer, Verizon

Remember the not-so-distant days when you could only get an iPhone on AT&T (formerly Cingular)? Verizon Wireless had first shot at the device but said no thanks, citing Apple’s demands about revenue sharing and control over distribution. As a result, Verizon found itself out in the cold as the iPhone’s popularity took off. It wasn’t until the iPhone 4’s release in 2011 that Verizon joined the party.

“Apple will likely have a tough time convincing application vendors to build specialized clients for the iPhone until the volumes are there, and the volumes could be limited by the lack of third-party applications -- a Catch-22.”
Jack Gold, founder, J. Gold Associates

Gold, a mobility analyst, didn’t completely discount the iPhone’s chances of succeeding in a 2007 Computerworld column, but he did raise an issue about its apps and whether or not they’d catch on. Apple’s original strategy was to employ Web apps, but once the company released an iPhone software developer's kit and debuted the App Store in 2008, the popularity of native apps skyrocketed. By April 2012, there were more than 378 million monthly iPhone app downloads in the U.S. alone, according to Xyologic.

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You're missing this classic:

"We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone," ... "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.'"
- Ed Colligan, Palm CEO
Hilarious stuff! You cannot expect RIM and Microsoft to innovate, there is simply no evidence for it. They lack vision, leadership, and are built to make money by dragging 10 tons of legacy behind it.

They cannot fathom any system having value without M$Office or Exchange. Heck, Microsoft cannot fully bring itself to accept that you can have a successful tablet without a keyboard. They are mired in this culture.

They are still using the tired old NTFS file system, still using .DLLs... They STILL have Nagle's algorithm enabled by default in in Win 7 (Because we still use 2400 baud modems). I'd bet on the same for Win 8.

Microsoft tried and tried and tried to release a tablet to release a tablet PC to an incredibly eager market segment. But their cobbled together approach was too terrible to use. Every. time.

It took a company like Apple, who is not afraid to innovate, to sit down with a blank sheet of paper; Designing (Real design - Not tossing thing we have on hand in a case) solely towards usability & striving for making use easy and enjoyable.

My advice: If you want to know where the industry is headed, ask Ballmer or Gates. When they tell you, you definitely know that is NOT where the industry is heading.
Microsoft and Apple are living together in peaceful harmony, now that Apple IpHone has integrated Microsoft's Active Sync into their email client. Connecting IpHone to Microsoft Exchange is a quick, easy and reliable now. In spite of it's old skool enterprise approach computing, Microsoft has worked it;s way into the Iphone and is collecting royaties for every Iphone with Active Sync technonlogy.
Note how all of the commenters are far away from understanding the real user needs. iPhone gave an experience over crude function. Microsoft seemed to understand it once with Windows concept they copied from Macs.