RIM Head of Developer Relations Quits

by Gaurav Kheterpal on September 6, 2011

Many believe it’s a question of ‘When’ rather than ‘If’; the fact that Waterloo’s Research in Motion will eventually be acquired in what would be one of the biggest mobile mergers in history. In July, the company announced a restructuring plan that would see some 2000 employees lose their jobs.

Back then, RIM said the layoffs are a necessary measure to cut out redundancies and refocus resources to better streamline the company. Though the company chose to exclude the top management from the axing exercise, it doesn’t really matter that much – RIM continues to lose its heavyweight performers at an alarming rate.

In June, Brian Wallace, RIM’s vice-president of marketing and media, left the company for a job at Samsung. Last month, Ryan Bidan, formerly senior product manager for RIM’s PlayBook tablet, left the company. And last week, Mike Kirkup, Research In Motion’s senior director of global developer relations, announced that this “is a good time to step back and consider my next steps.”

With all due respect to Mr. Wallace and Mr. Bidan, Kirkup was in a different league altogether. He was a very popular man among the BlackBerry developer fraternity and a familiar face at RIM’s mobile development workshops and conferences. IMO, the loss of Research In Motion Ltd.’s developer relations chief couldn’t have been timed any worse. The company is struggling to motivate developers to continue developing on the BB platform and Kirkup’s departure will further dent developer confidence in RIM. A number of developers feel they are ‘stuck in limbo’ as devices on RIM’s new operating system won’t be available until next year. Of course, they are worried that RIM may not exist next year and those fears are not unfounded.

Kirkup worked at RIM since 2001, after graduating from co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’ alma mater, the University of Waterloo. He led a technical-support team at RIM that helped third-party developers craft better apps and troubleshoot problems. In fact, I consider myself fortunate to have interacted with him at a recent mobile app development workshop. His was not an easy job – recruiting developers and evangelising making apps for the BlackBerry – especially when most developers prefer iOS and Android.

For what it’s worth, RIM’s head of marketing, Keith Pardy, and one of its chief operating officers, Don Morrison, also resigned this year. RIM still has “many amazing individuals” but it’s still struggling to establish a much-needed developer base

“The mobile space continues to change so quickly and this seems like a great time to step back and consider my next steps,” Kirkup said on the blog.

Sad news indeed for the RIM developer fraternity.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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{ 1 comment }

ginger December 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm

It’s not like a whole department stops working when the manager/boss gets replaced.
If developer relations were not that great, then it was about time for a change.
And now retrospectively, it looks like a good move.

Alec Saunders is now the new head of developer relations and he bloody well knows what he’s doing. Blocked the half-baked release of a QNX 2.0 which would have been followed by a 2.0.1 quickly, etc.
Look forward for high-quality tools and apps at the 2.0 release in February.

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