updated 02:35 pm EDT, Mon July 9, 2007
RIM CEO on iPhone Danger
Research in Motion head Jim Baisilie believes the iPhone could be potentially toxic for the cellphone industry, according to a recent interview. The head of the BlackBerry firm points out that while AT&T has obtained a multi-year contract for the device, the terms leave the carrier out of much of the sales process and give it little influence over the customization of the phone's hardware or software. Apple may be putting AT&T -- and other networks -- in danger of becoming simple enablers for hardware from other companies, Balsillie warns.
"It's a dangerous strategy. It's a tremendous amount of control," he says. "And the more control of the platform that goes out of the carrier, the more they shift into a commodity pipe."
RIM's devices are built around the company's centralized BlackBerry "push" e-mail service but otherwise follow a conventional business model, selling exclusively through cellular providers and frequently shipping with customized software and logos stamped on to the device.
By contrast, Apple has so far insisted on a largely hands-off approach. The iPhone itself includes no branding aside from AT&T text in the menu bar and activates within iTunes rather than through AT&T's official stores or sanctioned resellers. Apple has also insisted on handling repairs for the equipment.