My Thoughts–RIM/Microsoft

This morning I am feeling a bit Nostalgic. Maybe my age is showing or I realize how I grew my career though some many changes in technology. In the last few days BlackBerry formally Rim laid off 4500 people and then proceeded to enter into a agreement to sell itself to a Private Equity Firm. This hits home 2 ways. The first is because I am based in Cambridge, Ontario, just 15 short minutes drive to RIM part in waterloo. I have friends that work at BlackBerry who will be effected by the events. The second reason was that years ago I was heavily involved in BlackBerry development working on a Mobile platform before there were Mobile Platforms.

I have to say that I was quite proud of my effort on those projects and thrilled what was accomplished where our mobile tools could customize, compile, deploy and  run on both BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. Ultimately the company was purchases and that in itself I believe was an exciting thing to go through.

Now looking back at RIM and now Microsoft I find it interesting how much things Parallel between the two companies when it came to some of their mobile strategies. I believe I am I a position based working on the toolsets in the earlier years to comment. During that Time I interacted with both members of RIM and Microsoft and ultimately the lack of vision seems to have determined the fate of one company and severely impacted the other.

During our conversations neither customer could see their current demographics needs and it seemed at least to an observer they were unwilling to listen to their community. I also think that the earlier Microsoft devices were highly underpowered to handle the workloads that we needed in the business community. The earlier releases of .net on the devices were slow and missed many core features that the business community needed.With RIM we had been driving for on phone cameras, removable SD cards .. Things that if their phones had years earlier would have had a toe hold in the consumer market.

Now RIM has disappeared from its former glory and shortly we will see its fate shake out. With Microsoft they are pushing for their Mobile 3.0 strategy (I assume there are more tries there) with the purchase of Nokia and the release of Surface 2 devices. I am impressed on the hardware side of what Microsoft is building and thought the S2Pro at $1800 is pricy I more then likely will pick one up. The problem I have is with Microsoft’s  developer strategies of late. From the outside they seem unorganized and not as well thought out as one would think.I site the following

1. Killing off active development of Silverlight. Sure you cannot get it on IPad but that made it no less viable as a business intranet development strategy. Potentially continuing to re-invest for a few years more would have ensured that businesses continued to invest in there XAML based business apps pushing them to Win8 and not to Apple in the future. Prematurely EOL basically killed that potential upsell.

2. Charging organizations a side load license to create Win8/XAML applications for their LOB solutions. And on top of that creating what I understand a archaic license agreements where you have to buy a minimum number of licenses and on top of that you cannot transfer them. This means that I as a vendor cannot include a single license in the box to make it easier for a customer to buy our product.

3. Moving Scott Guthrie to Azure. I think Scott is awesome, but I think he was more awesome discussing the latest development tool feature (Silverlight, ASP.net…). Moving on Azure it seems more like marketing a product then the geek cred that I so liked him for. I know that MS needed someone with Scotts capability in the Azure team but personally. This is a personal opinion as is all of this blog 😉

Ultimately I think 1 and 2 push developers to HTML/JS or back into Winforms/WPF. If Microsoft wants corporate adoption en Masse I really think they need to rethink #2 Because we all have alternates now causing a barrier to entry does nothing to help the platform.

I did see some Tweet the other day saying that some form of Silverlight is coming back and that would be great but its time for Microsoft to re-embrace the developer community and as they say ‘Show them some Love’. There is a lot of us faithful but we are fickle and will move away.