RIM Hires Ex-Microsoft and Apple Designer Don Lindsay

After stretches with Apple and then Microsoft, Research In Motion hires Don Lindsay as its vice president of user experience. BlackBerry maker RIM is sitting pretty with current profits, but it's making a play toward consumers-just as Apple is looking to be taken more seriously by the enterprise. Can Lindsay guide RIM to what consumers want?

Research In Motion has hired Don Lindsay, a designer who spent time with both Apple and Microsoft. The news, which MoCo News reported April 9, provokes the question of whether RIM needs some Apple know-how to succeed in the consumer space.

According to Lindsay's LinkedIn profile, he will be creating a vice president of user experience role at RIM-which is very in line with his area of expertise at Apple.

In an interview on the I Started Something blog, Lindsay says that prior to joining Microsoft in 2003, he spent 10 years at Apple, directing the User Experience team that was responsible for the first four releases of Mac OS X. He says he first jointed Apple to work on Speech user interfaces.

At Microsoft, he worked at the Live Labs project and helped the MSX design team wrap up Vista. His contributions, he told I Started Something, were "primarily those features enabled by the Desktop Window Manager, including Alt-tab, Flip3D, Glass and colorization, Window Animations and the AERO graphics tiering strategy (how the AERO UX downgrades gracefully on less-capable hardware or by SKU)...."

On April 2, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie announced that the company's 2009 fourth-quarter earnings were $3.46 billion, which was 24.5 percent higher than the previous quarter's $2.78 billion and a considerable 84 percent higher than the $1.88 billion revenue of 2008's fourth quarter.

In reference to RIM's strong showing, Strategy Analytics director Neil Mawston told eWEEK that RIM has quietly been expanding its handsets and services to better court consumers.

"RIM has the opposite challenge to Apple," said Mawston. "Apple started in consumer and wants to push into the enterprise. RIM started with the enterprise and wants to push into consumer. Repositioning for both of those brands will take time and resources."

Mawston also added that the Palm Pre-which will arrive in June, likely around the time of a new iPhone or two-is also a "competitive threat," and that Nokia is making plans to come on strong in the U.S. market.