It's a sad day for CrackBerry Nation. To say I was shocked when I saw word that one of our absolute all-time favorite Research In Motion employees, Mike Kirkup, tendered his resignation today would be an understatement.
If you've been a CrackBerry reader for a long time, you'll know Mike well as he's made a bunch of appearances on the site over the years (heck, he was the first RIM employee to ever get his own article tag!). An early proponent of treating BlackBerry as a platform, he has been one of the main faces of the BlackBerry Platform for almost a decade, first starting as a Security Software Developer before moving to the Developer Relations team (formerly ISV/SI Technical team) in 2004.
Since first meeting Mike a few years back, I've seen him progress from Manager to Director to Senior Director of Developer Relations as he's helped grow the BlackBerry developer community to 400k strong and spearhead, along with his team, three BlackBerry Developer Conferences. Always exuding passion whenever he's joined us on a podcast or video interview, Mike truly is a BlackBerry fan.
Wanting to get to the bottom of Mike's impending departure from the company, I reached out to him for an over the phone interview. Keep reading for our exclusive Q&A with Mike Kirkup as we find out why he's leaving, where he's going and whether or not he's lost faith in RIM.
Final BlackBerry Q&A with Mike Kirkup
We caught up with Mike an he agreed to answer some of our questions about his upcoming departure and what his plans for the future are.
Q. Why are you leaving? Why now?
A. The wireless and technology sectors are changing so rapidly right now and this is a very good time for me to step back, spend some time with my family and re-prioritize a bit. It's also the right time for me to decide what my next journey will be. The journey so far, with RIM, has been incredible. This is a great company with leaders who I admire and respect. I know that RIM and BlackBerry will always be at forefront of wireless communications and I only expect great things from this company.
Q. Where are you going?
A. Like I said, I really am just taking a much needed break to spend time with family and friends and figure out what path to take next. It's a little intimidating, but at the same time I am excited to see what the future holds.
Q. Have you lost faith in RIM?
A. No. I cannot stress this enough. I have so much admiration and respect for the people at RIM. I love BlackBerry. My smartphone, my PlayBook, they are great products and I know RIM is going to keep offering excellent products for everyone who wants to be able to live on the go.
Q. Will you still use a BlackBerry?
A. Definitely. I love my BlackBerry. For the first time in my life, I am going to get to buy a BlackBerry!
Q. I've predicted on more than one occasion that one day in the future we would see Mike Kirkup as RIM's CEO. With my dream now off the table, do you have any parting advice or direction you would give to RIM's current leaders?
A. Thanks Kevin. That is a very kind comment. In terms of parting advice, RIM is undergoing a change as they focus more on the importance of app developers and align the company around creating and supporting their incredibly robust platform. I would strongly encourage each RIM employee and certainly the executive staff to always put themselves in the shoes of the external developer. I believe that maintaining that viewpoint will be critical to the platform's success in the future.
Q. Are you going to miss saying the phrase, "I cannot comment on rumor or speculation"?
A. (He's laughing at that one.) Mostly, I am going to miss the people I work with. They're smart, strong, loyal and fun. And at the same time I am looking forward to having an opportunity to more openly participate in the mobile space and share my opinions based on years of being on the front line with developers.
Q. I know you have coding skills. Going to put any of that down time towards building BlackBerry apps?
A. I won't lie. Given my skills there is a good chance I am going to be sitting back down in front of a computer and pumping out some code. Time will tell though.
Q. Can you tell us anything about future BlackBerry products? Come on Mike.. I know you know stuff....
A. Nope. I'll be eagerly waiting to see what comes next, just the same as you and the CrackBerry Nation.
Thanks for your time Mike. Best of luck in whatever comes next for you. Throw the same passion at is as you have for BlackBerry all these years and I know you'll do well. We're going to miss talking to you at all the BlackBerry shows!
Check out past CrackBerry articles featuring RIM's Mike Kirkup