I worked in smart phones since the early J2ME phones hit North America. I too completely missed the iPhone. And I'm no suit. You can argue that I lack vision (you'd probably be right) just like the execs running the big telcos. Then again, I think the entire mobile computing establishment missed it. I know people in academia, at Microsoft, at Motorola, at Nokia, etc ... EVERYONE I KNOW MISSED IT! I don't know when people realized that everything had changed. This isn't a statement about just Apple btw. Google was also a new player in this space and look at their market share vs. the established players (circa 2000).
Honestly ... I'm a bit dazed. I can't believe I missed it. I'm sure neither can a lot of people and companies. I get a bit sad sometimes because it feels like it is too late to catch up.
In the early to mid nineties, Apple spent fortunes on 'crazy new ideas'— it nearly bankrupted them. When Steve Jobs came back, he terminated all those projects and discontinued most of the product catalog. No more PDAs, stylus operated netbooks, printers, scanners, digital cameras -- all gone.
So no, trying 'crazy new ideas' won't necessarily save RIM. Replacing all major executives and the board of directors might. That's one of the first things Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple, and most of those execs are still with Apple now, 15 years later.
Woah, that was a crazy idea...
The iPhone was released 11 years later, when Apple had already become an insanely successful company.
I always thought that Big Telco wouldn't be the ones bringing the innovation. I did expect that 3G would eventually reduce telcos to big data pipes (exactly their nightmare 10 years ago), but of course I couldn't have imagined that it would take so long to happen, and that it happened to fast once it did (how many sends MMS today?)
On J2ME, the early model was ... you had to pay 2K to get your app approved by the carriers. I was giving away some free apps in those days. I remember politely declining the rep I was talking to and thinking FU!!! You want me to pay you to get a free app into your store? The store that has almost no selection? This is before Ads on phones btw. Still ... many people thrived in that ecosystem. Anyone remember sites like Handango? Heh .. those were the days.
So ... the carriers still live. They didn't get what they deserved. The people who catered to the whims of the carriers are the ones who paid for it. There is a lesson in here somewhere.
I don't see any way to make carriers "pay" until we have technology that can replace their massive capital investment (partially funded by taxpayers). The barriers to entry are extremely high.