iPhone: the touch of brilliance
"As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users. Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that's a real challenge. You cannot see what you type," said Jim Balsillie back in 2007.
The co-CEO of Research In Motion, whose Qwerty keyboarded BlackBerry phones w ere the smartphone of choice for corporates everywhere, was not expressing an atypical sentiment about the touchscreen phone.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously laughed out loud at the $500 iPhone: "That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard - which makes it not a very good e-mail machine."
Ballmer might be forgiven, seeing as he made the comments in January 2007 soon after the iPhone was announced. But Balsillie's ironic comments were in November that year, when iPhone mania was in full swing.
With the iPhone having celebrated its fifth anniversary on Friday, both men are on the outside looking in. Balsillie - and Mike Lazaridis, with whom he shared the bizarre designation of CEO and board chairman of RIM - has been ousted and BlackBerry is well and truly on the ropes.
On Thursday, RIM announced a $518-million loss, that it would shed 5000 jobs and that the new BlackBerry10 operating system it is pinning its resurrection on will be delayed until next year.
An already unimpressed Wall Street has continued to hammer its stock, shaving a reported 19% off it on that news alone.
Rumours have resurfaced that RIM, like Nokia, might be considering a switch to Microsoft's Windows Phone software. It is unlikely, given how significantly RIM has invested in its own operating system. And, as Nokia CEO Stephen Elop would tell you, Microsoft can be a cold partner.
Two weeks ago Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8, due out later this year, would not be provided as an upgrade to phones currently running version 7.5 - for which Nokia is the flagship hardware partner.
When he took over Nokia, Elop likened its Symbian software to a "burning platform" and the world's largest phone maker (still) had to decide whether to stay to face the fire or plunge into the cold sea.
It must have felt very cold after Microsoft's (his former employer) announcement, which will effectively stop would-be Nokia smartphones buyers until the new operating system is available.
It's an unfathomable decision given how much Microsoft needs Nokia to succeed in regaining its lost smartphone market share so Microsoft can build from Windows Phone's tiny 2% share.
Elop pointed out that it is no longer only the handset that matters but the entire ecosystem of apps and software - which is where Apple, and belatedly Google's Android, have excelled.
Smartphones currently make up only an estimated 13% of cellphones globally, but constitute 80% of mobile broadband use, an estimated 35 times more data than so-called feature phones.
With voice calls, and revenue, declining, increasing data use in an increasingly mobile world is the goal of cellphone operators to maintain their income.
Meanwhile, the "most expensive phone in the world", which is admittedly hard to type on, is the gold standard of smartphones and among the most profitable.
RIM, Nokia and Microsoft underestimated Apple's iPhone, which has sold an estimated 217million units and reinvented computing for the mobile generation. You'll read many reviews of its impact this week and the most important is how it popularised touchscreens and introduced the app economy.
Being able to navigate and use two fingers (called multitouch) on a touchscreen has become the new interface (taking over from the input triumvirate of keyboard, mouse and screen) and truly making handheld computers mobile.
Creating mobile apps, and the device-specific functionality they offer, has become a significant industry in its own right.
Not bad for a five-year-old.