QNX

In September of 2011, I sat down with the BlackBerry Developer Relations team, after being introduced as their new leader. I vividly remember telling the group that opportunities like BlackBerry 10 only come along rarely in a person’s career; that we were all going to work harder than we had ever worked before; that we were going to learn from each other; that it would be a roller coaster to get there; and that once BlackBerry 10 had launched, we would all look back on that experience as a “career defining moment”. They gave me their support and loyalty and we accomplished truly remarkable things in the two and half years until launch.

As you know, times and business circumstances change. Sometime between now and November 3 will be my last day at BlackBerry and QNX.

A number of folks have expressed regrets, or said they were sorry. No need. During my time at BlackBerry and QNX, we’ve achieved significant business results, built lasting friendships, created hundreds of fantastic memories, and learned lessons that we couldn’t have learned anywhere else. These are far more important to me than a pay check, and I look back on what the company and our teams accomplished over the last three years with pride.

How about growing from just 16,000 applications in BlackBerry World to 265,000 in two and half years? That’s a 1,650% improvement. To get there, we had to grow our developer base from 7,600 to over 70,000. We orchestrated programs in 44 countries, built three generations of dev-alpha handsets, and seeded over 40,000 devices in 18 months.

Or how about going from zero to launch with Project Ion, including recruiting a team of 8 people, in just 90 days? Nearly 1,000 companies signed up for early access to information on Project Ion as a result.

Numbers aside, my favorite part of the last three years has been the people I worked with.

  • During the BlackBerry 10 launch, my team of 200, the Global Alliances team, the BlackBerry App World team, the amazing engineering and sales teams, and our unflappable PR teams.
  • Of course, the tiny Project Ion team, plus all of the fantastic folks at QNX who welcomed me back for a third stint at the company and pitched in to help with the Project Ion launch and marketing afterward.
  • And how about the legions of BlackBerry fans and developers I’ve met? You know who you are… BlackBerry Hank, Morten, CrackBerry Kevin, Jerome… to name just a few. I met thousands of you over the last three years. It’s impossible to name all of you, but know that you made my work rewarding and memorable.

We worked hard, but we also played hard too. Whether it was recording goofy music videos, the “Leap of Faith” at the Stratosphere hotel, or eating roasted bugs to encourage developer teams to fix software bugs, there was always time for a few laughs on the way to achieving our goals.

So I leave with a light heart, and best wishes for today’s BlackBerry team. I know that turning BlackBerry’s business around will take heart, gumption, and hard work. I have faith that you will succeed, and I wish that you may look back on this period as one of your own “career defining moments”.

And just as I promised my team in September of 2011, you have individually and together — every one of you BlackBerry employees, BlackBerry developers, BlackBerry customers, and BlackBerry fans — given me the gift of three years of “career defining moments”.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for that.

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Next Up – The Internet of Things

by alec on January 26, 2014

Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.  Dean Acheson, American Statesman.

Last Thursday, news broke that I had accepted a new role as the Vice President of QNX Cloud, a new business at QNX (a BlackBerry subsidiary).  As an industry we’re closing in on connecting every phone on the planet — maybe 5 billion in total.  What’s next?  Connecting up all the machines.   QNX Cloud is a business focused on building enabling cloud based technologies for Machine to Machine and Internet of Things businesses.  QNX Cloud is infrastructure that enables a wide range of connected devices (ranging from automobiles to power plants, consumer electronics, and more) to be managed, updated, and remotely monitored.  Our goal is to facilitate so-called “big data” analysis of data coming from these connected devices, and to provide programming interfaces that allow the creation of sophisticated new applications that deliver real business benefit to our customers.

John Chen, writing on Inside BlackBerry, described this move as a “return to his roots”, but I prefer to think of it as a continuation of a path that I have been walking on for most of the past 20 years of my career.  A future that, for twenty years, has been coming “one day at a time”.  QNX Cloud is a developer product, first and foremost.  It’s targeted at networked and embedded devices. To be successful, we’ll need to build an ecosystem, channels to market, and recruit strategic partners.  And because it’s a new initiative, it has many characteristics of a start up.

Wish us luck.

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Living with Playbook, two months later

June 15, 2011
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When RIM launched the BlackBerry Playbook in mid-April, I grabbed one and started using it.  You might have noticed that I didn’t write about it the time.  The same as other writers, my initial take on the Playbook was that it had a lot of promise but wasn’t ready for prime-time.  Some websites didn’t work, […]

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RIM: Re-imagining “Phone” again

May 30, 2011
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The knives are out for RIM’s top management, but the financial press is missing the boat as they focus on short-term results. In 2002, the company remade the fledgling smartphone industry by releasing the first devices – Blackberry 5800 series – with integrated enterprise class email.  The arms race was on, as Microsoft and Palm […]

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Is RIM doomed to repeat history?

February 11, 2011

I invite you to cast your memories back to 1992.  No, not the election of Bill Clinton, but the IBM launch of OS/2 2.0. OS/2 2.0, IBM’s multi-tasking OS with the ability to run Windows applications in virtual machines was widely touted as “a better Windows than Windows”.  And indeed, compared to Windows 3.1, it […]

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Don’t be afraid to kill old business lines.

December 13, 2010
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Successfully transitioning from a current product to a next generation, without damaging the business today, is one of the toughest balancing acts in business.  That’s the challenge that the darling of the Canadian mobile market, RIM, faces today. Friday afternoon a customer casually asked me what I thought of RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’ session at […]

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RIM’s secret weapon.

September 9, 2010

The US analyst community has been holding a wake for RIM in the last few days.  Henry Blodget has been beating the drum for some time, and now he’s been joined by Colin Gillis of BCG, Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg, and Pierre Ferragu of Bernstein.  It’s a pile-on that has driven the stock price down […]

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RIM bought QNX because of Apple.

April 9, 2010

News is out this morning that Harman International has agreed to sell its QNX Software Systems division to Research In Motion.  TechCrunch reports that this might mean tighter integration with automobiles, since Harman acquired QNX in order to provide software to its automotive customer base.  RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis himself hypes up the automotive possibilities […]

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QNX CAR showcased at Adobe MAX

October 5, 2009

Adobe’s on a roll, putting flash into all kinds of devices.  Expect lots of announcements this week as the Adobe MAX Conference gets underway.  For example, over the weekend, news reports said that Adobe would extend flash to just about every phone in the market – except iPhone.  The message is that with Flash 10.1, […]

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QNX at Mobile World Congress

February 14, 2008

Getting into mobile devices was a favorite theme of QNX founder Dan Dodge during the time I was at the company, 5 years ago. But back then it was an aspiration as opposed to having a solid offering for mobile device manufacturers.  So, I dropped by the QNX display (part of the FreeScale Exhibit) yesterday […]

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