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It’s always so interesting to look back at history and marvel over how 20/20 our foresight was — or consider flubs that in hindsight make us want to facepalm ourselves. If I were in the executive leadership at BlackBerry’s Research In Motion, I’d be doing the latter.

Turns out, when the very first iPhone was announced, it caused quite a ruckus at places like RIM, Motorola, Nokia and Palm. For the BlackBerry executive team, the event was supposedly a panic-inducing situation, with emergency meetings called the very next day, says a former employee.

So what happened? Basically, they got together, assessed the situation and, in the end, called “Phooey” on the iPhone, saying that the device Steve Jobs described couldn’t possibly exist. In fact, the BlackBerry execs practically called Jobs a liar, citing that there was no way a phone with that big a display and such robust features could ever offer any usable battery life.

But the iPhone did launch, and it was no fake. When RIM got its hands on one and popped it open, a big shocker was in store for them — a device that was mostly a huge battery and a wee little logic board crammed in there. The current iPhone 4 sports an even bigger battery now, and a sexy, more energy efficient A4 processor chip and Retina Display.

For its part, BlackBerry tried to enter the stadium with two Storm handsets, as well as the Torch this year, which is RIM’s first foray into capacitive touchscreens.

But even now, three years after the original iPhone debuted, it seems RIM still has trouble getting their heads around this product segment, as none of these devices has really set the world on fire. (The Torch’s 320 x 480 display and 624 MHz processor are considered pretty mediocre, if not underpowered.)

I wonder what the BlackBerry team will say when the iPhone 5 arrives. If it’s even half as good as the rumors suggest, there could be some fainting going on at RIM’s headquarters.

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