How the iPhone spelled the beginning of the end for the BlackBerry

File photo.

File photo.  (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Former BlackBerry co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said this week that the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 was the beginning of the end for the once-widely-used handheld device.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Blackberry realized it couldn't compete after the iPhone's introduction, in part due to the return rate on the company’s Storm device, developed to compete with the iPhone, according to an AP report.

Balsillie made the remarks during a question-and-answer session with the authors of a new book “Losing the Signal. The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry."

Because the Blackberry Storm was rushed to market, “it blew up on us," Balsillie said. He added that AT&T’s decision to hook up with Apple was devastating because it gave Apple “carte blanche and unlimited bandwidth to develop services like fast and full Internet browsing and video downloads,” the AP report said.

At one time, BlackBerry held about 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market but now holds a tiny fraction of that.

Before the iPhone, the Blackberry was probably the most widely-used mobile business device for email in the U.S. 

In 2013, the company -- formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM) -- announced that it was looking for suitors to buy the company and laid off a large chunk of its staff.

Balsillie said he still uses a BlackBerry Bold, according to the AP report. “You'll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” he said.

Apple continues to extend the reach of its gadget offerings, launching the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus last year, which it touted as the biggest advancements in iPhone history. Earlier this year the tech giant also launched Apple Watch, its first new product category under CEO Tim Cook.