The Inside BlackBerry Developer’s Blog talked with Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president of Developer Relations and Ecosystem Development the other day about his vision and plans for the BlackBerry developer platform and ecosystem going forward. Alec recently joined the RIM team with the mandate to drive growth for RIM’s BBOS QNX powered BlackBerry platforms and build a thriving developer community around them.
Here’s what the Inside BlackBerry Developer’s Blog (IBBDB) learned.
IBBDB: Congratulations, Alec, and welcome to the RIM team.
Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.
IBBDB: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been in technology for over 20 years now. I’m a University of Waterloo graduate (1987) and I’ve spent most of my time working with software developers in various roles throughout my career – first at Microsoft, and then as VP of marketing of QNX Software Systems – which is the embedded operating system company that created the OS for the next generation of BlackBerry devices. In 2002, I went to Versatel Networks, a company that built a platform that allowed software developers to create compelling voice applications that ran in telephone networks, and in 2003, I struck out on my own with a friend and mentor, Howard Thaw, to build a company called iotum inc., which we conceived, financed, staffed, and launched successfully. At the beginning of this year, I went to my board and asked them to find a new CEO. After eight years I wanted a change, and I felt the company needed a really strong sales oriented CEO. So I offered to help find a new CEO, and in June we brought in the new guy, and I started looking for something new. I went looking for something that would allow me to return to what I love doing most, and that is working with developers.
And of all the opportunities I looked at, RIM was the most exciting to me.
IBBDB: What makes it so exciting for you to join RIM?
I’ll take you back to the late 90’s for a second, my first encounter with BlackBerry, or at least, what would become BlackBerry. It was Las Vegas, CES, and there I was in the back of a cab trying to get a press release edited … on a RIM pager. It was cool. I’d never seen anything like it and the promise of being able to do email wirelessly was mind blowing. Pretty soon tons of people on the Microsoft corporate campus were carrying one. And over the last decade, since that time, RIM has expanded to 175 countries, and its products are distributed by over 600 carriers across the globe and all from that start with the RIM Inter@ctive Pager. Despite the intensely competitive market out there, RIM continues to pull down huge numbers: 150 million devices RIM has shipped to date, 70 million subscribers on RIM’s network today, over 1 billion app downloads (increasing at 120 million per month) since BlackBerry App World launched.
All of that adds up to a huge opportunity for our partners, for developers … There’s no reason why developers shouldn’t be able to make a great living just by serving BlackBerry customers. And my team’s job is to make it as attractive, easy and fun as possible for developers to build for the BlackBerry platform – smartphones and tablet alike.