New talent (from Microsoft/Apple), new ideas, BlackBerry DNA: shake well
Interview with .... relative newcomer, Don Lindsay, vice president of user experience design, (who was asked) to coordinate the effort to redefine not just the "BlackBerry experience," but the core "mobile experience" for users.
Lindsay speaks quietly, unassertively, methodically and readily: He's given these issues a lot of thought. He was recruited from Microsoft, where he worked for about five years, where he was design director at Microsoft Live Labs. Before that, he spent 10 years in design at Apple, where he was design director for the Mac OS X User Experience Group.
He also played a key role in BlackBerry's 2010 acquisition of The Astonishing Tribe
Lindsay credits RIM co-founder and longtime co-CEO Mihalis "Mike" Lazaridis with the initial vision displayed when he recruited Lindsay. "He recognized that [post-iPhone] there were expectations about how a consumer device should look like and behave," Lindsay says. Lazaridis has already brought in another relative newcomer, Senior Vice President Todd Wood, to reset the company's industrial design discipline for hardware.
"[Lazaridis] wanted us to bring all this to bear at RIM," says Lindsay. "He saw this was not an area of strength for the company. His idea was to 'help us understand and create an experience that appeals to a larger audience. And help us bring it to market.'"
One of the most influential principles was what the designers term "cinematic experience." Lindsay says that some outsiders think this refers only to the phone's ability to play high-definition video and its HDMI port.
"But for us it translates into 'a large screen, entirely filled by the [user] experience,'" he says. "We're giving application developers control over every pixel on the screen, not reserving some of them for things like [showing] battery life or signal strength or a virtual home button. It creates a more immersive user experience. And it also gives more room to a sweeping panorama and gestures. It was this that led us to consider using gestures instead of buttons."
One result: simple, sensuous and unfailingly consistent gestures for navigating the phone and improving the experience of working with it. "We called it 'stroking not poking,'" Lindsay says.
"The common sentiment [among reviewers] is that there is a very short learning period at the beginning," Lindsay says. "But the reward of having learned that is [that] it becomes very intuitive and very natural."
Lindsay would only talk generally about the design team's current priorities. But he started by emphasizing that "BB10 is a mobile computing platform."
"The Z10 and Q10 are just the first two devices," he says. "The challenge is, can we define a platform experience that scales across a wide array of possible device implementations? How do we define a platform that scales appropriately for that? Can we ensure the platform 'holds together' as we move from one device to another?"
The entire article is a three page read. I've posted only a quarter of it.
How BlackBerry recreated the mobile user experience with Z10 - Network World