When phones became computers

A really important bit of history recounted in Losing the Signal, pg 139-140, a really excellent book about the history of Research In Motion:

In the summer of 2007, however, Lazaridis cracked open a phone that gave him pause. “They’ve put a Mac in this thing,” he marveled after peering inside one of the new iPhones. Ever since Apple’s phone went on sale in June, critics and consumers were effusive about the sleek phone’s playful touch screen, elegant graphics, and high-resolution images. Lazaridis saw much more. This was no ordinary smartphone. It was a small mobile Apple computer whose operating system used 700 megabytes of memory—more than twenty-two times the computing power of the BlackBerry. The iPhone had a full Safari browser that traveled everywhere on the Internet. With AT& T’s backing, he could see, Apple was changing the direction of the industry. Lazaridis shared the revelation with his handset engineers, who had been pushing to expand BlackBerry’s Internet reach for years. Before, Lazaridis had waved them off. Carriers wouldn’t allow RIM to include more than a simple browser because it would crash their networks. After his iPhone autopsy, however, he realized the smartphone race was in danger of shifting. If consumers and carriers continued to embrace the iPhone, BlackBerry would need more than its efficient e-mail and battery to lead the market. “If this thing catches on, we’re competing with a Mac, not a Nokia,” he said. The new battleground was mobile computing.

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