When we saw the first photos of Research in Motion’s new “Bold,” we assumed co-CEO Jim Balsillie had just plunked Apple’s iPhone down in front of his engineers and said “Give me something like this.” Not so, says RIM’s other co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. In this interview with Natasha Lomas, Mike says RIM’s been working on the Bold since time immemorial:
This is three years in the making. So I’m sorry but this wasn’t a response to another device. Either that or we have a time machine somewhere, or some kind of magic crystal ball or something. This was actually designed three years ago and the actual physical design of this product–I have the original models from 2006.
Mike also argues that QWERTY keyboards are only going to get more popular, now that mobile email, Facebook, etc., are going mainstream:
The most exciting mobile trend is…full Qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up. People are running out of their two-year contracts and they’re coming into the stores and they want to be able to do Facebook and they want to be able to do instant messaging and they want to be able to do e-mail and they ask for those features thinking that they’re going to get another flip phone and they’re walking out with a (BlackBerry) Curve or a Pearl because they’re the best devices for doing those kinds of activities. And so what is the defining factor? The keyboard.
Which doesn’t explain why RIM is about to release its next iPhone-killer, the keyboard-less Thunder, (Dan Frommer has photoshopped a hypothetical version below).