It’s so incredibly easy to hammer down on RIM as they haven’t released a new flagship device in a year, nor provided any true meaningful OS updates to their smartphones. Plus you could get bogged down by their low stock price and the recent job cuts, but on the horizon is their anticipated BlackBerry 10 OS and the upcoming BlackBerry 10 handsets – which are expected to hit the world later this year.
On the BlackBerry blog there’s an interesting interview with Todd Wood, the SVP of Design at RIM. We met him a couple weeks back when the launch of the Porsche Design store in Toronto. In total there were 6 questions that circled around RIM’s design philosophy. The principles are “3Ds – Definition, Development and Delivery.” Basically they take the standard route of “understanding what the customer’s needs and wants are,” then “map ideas,” followed by testing the “final designs with the very people who inspired them: the customers, the business people, and the technology people.” Wood says this “whole process is actually ‘research in motion’.”
Wood continues to state that he and his team get inspired from “different sources,” including the furniture design industry. In addition, he makes a good point that devices aren’t “seasonal anymore,” and that handsets are global and “people are realizing they are all connected.” RIM has previously communicated that their current BlackBerry phones have an “iconic” look to them, specifically with the physical QWERTY keyboard. Wood notes that people are quick to decide if they like/dislike a phone, first by “appearance and then by how it feels when they touch or hold it.”
As to the future of RIM’s designs – it’s more than appearance, but an “experience.” Perhaps this was the “flow” that CEO Thorsten Heins was speaking of for the upcoming BB 10 devices. In fact, RIM’s design team practices “Experience Design” (sounds very yoga like), but here’s the vision for the next 5 years, one that Wood sees RIM continuing to be a top mobile brand in the world:
“In the next five years, we will continue to grow the team and the capability. Others will try to emulate this model, but in the end I think, like most industries, it will become pretty clear that there are top tier brands. And our goal is to remain in that top tier.”
RIM has over 78 million BlackBerry subscribers and we do know that the first BlackBerry 10 handset will be a full touchscreen device, followed by another iconic physical QWERTY BB10 device. Overall, very exciting times at RIM…