Today in Apple history: iOS overtakes BlackBerry OS

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BlackBerry
Time was running out for BlackBerry.
Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr CC

June 3: Today in Apple history: iOS overtakes BlackBerry OS for first time June 3, 2011: iOS overtakes Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system for the first time.

While Android remains comfortably in the lead in terms of market share, the news marks the beginning of the end for BlackBerry as a smartphone powerhouse.

Research in Motion, a Canadian company that established deep roots in corporate environments with pagers and other enterprise hardware, once ruled the business world. Its long line of BlackBerry devices boasted responsive physical QWERTY keyboards and native support for push email. These features made them the go-to mobile devices for the corporate world.

That all began to change after Apple got into the game in 2007 with the iPhone launch. BlackBerry’s remarkable decline mirrored the iPhone’s rapid ascent, only in reverse.

In 2009, as the iPhone really started to take off, BlackBerry’s global market share hovered around 50 percent. By 2013, it fell to less than 3 percent. (Today it’s in the vicinity of 0.0 percent.)

The stats released on this date in 2011 highlighted the sea change occurring in the mobile world. Figures released by comScore showed that Apple’s iOS platform held 26 percent of the U.S. market, while BlackBerry fell to 25.7 percent.

By this point, Apple had overtaken RIM in terms of smartphone shipments. However, due to the BlackBerry’s historic lead, it took slightly longer for the iPhone to catch up in terms of mobile usage.

BlackBerry fails to act

The 2015 book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry tells the story of Research in Motion’s reaction to the original iPhone. BlackBerry execs responded with equal parts terror, admiration and burying their heads in the sand. One passage notes:

“RIM’s chiefs didn’t give much additional thought to Apple’s iPhone for months. ‘It wasn’t a threat to RIM’s core business,’ says [founder] Mr. Lazaridis’s top lieutenant, Larry Conlee. ‘It wasn’t secure. It had rapid battery drain and a lousy [digital] keyboard.'”

Like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s hysterical laughing at Apple’s $500 phone, the bosses at BlackBerry failed to realize what the iPhone represented until it was too late. Like, way, way too late.

Did you own a BlackBerry back in the day? When did you jump ship to Apple and the iPhone? Let us know your thoughts and recollections in the comments below.