NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Call 911! Senior executives are meeting, right now, in a smoke-filled room, plotting to take down Android.
I think they will ultimately fail, but not without perhaps inflicting some superficial wounds on their intended target.
What am I talking about? And who?To understand the scene at the 2013 version of "The Last Supper" you have to understand the logic and chronology of how the smartphone history developed over the last 15 years: In the early 1990s days, we had Nokia (NOK), which was eclipsed in the early 2000s by BlackBerry. The wireless operators were extremely happy with BlackBerry, partially because BlackBerry didn't pose a threat to them. It shared revenue, expanded the market into the lucrative enterprise sphere, and didn't divert existing operator services.
BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsille described his relationship with the wireless operators as "constructive alignment" because he emphasized that BlackBerry was the chief ally of the operators -- not a threat. All parties -- BlackBerry as well as the operators -- loved this arrangement and wanted it to continue forever. Minor threats such as Palm were swatted off like flies. The years between 2003 and 2007 were all sweetness, light and jingles for the wireless operators and for BlackBerry. Then came the iPhone stink bomb. Steve Jobs was the opposite of Jim Balsille's "constructive alignment." It was Jobs' way or the highway. Any operator carrying the iPhone had to comply with every millimeter of Apple's wishes. No logo on the device, no crapware apps, no nothing. Great for the consumer; bad for the operators. Apple was confident that it had a product the operators wouldn't be able to ignore, even though they hated it. All Apple needed was a crack in the Hoover Dam of the operator wall. With AT&T (T) hungry to take down Verizon Wireless from the U.S. market leadership position, Apple got its opening. Apple and AT&T milked this for all it was worth, and Verizon felt compelled to respond with desperate measures. Verizon went to BlackBerry for an all-touch version called Storm, which became a total disaster. It also licensed the "Droid" name from Lucas Films and agreed to promote Android heavily as its answer to the iPhone. Android was free and customizable, so the operators -- not only Verizon -- proceeded to promote it as their favored solution, trying to keep Apple away from total industry dominance.
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