A visit to the MMMOOO Innovation Workshop



Last week the BlackBerry® Developer Relations team was at GSMA’s Mobile Asia Expo 2012. This year the show debuted in Pudong, Shanghai for the first time, at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) featuring operators, telcom brands, and of course the popular App Planet. Shanghai is quite a fascinating city with an interesting mix of modernity and ancient culture. Despite having the largest population on earth, things (including their metro) seem to move quite smoothly.

We were looking forward to meeting MMMOOO at the expo, but we weren’t expecting a special invitation for a visit to their headquarters from Jonah Lin, the CEO for MMMOOO. In case you haven’t heard of them before, let us rewind back to BlackBerry® DevCon Asia last year. MMMOOO won Top Achiever in BlackBerry App World™, and their latest count in BlackBerry App World sits at 375+ applications. We simply could not refuse the invitation as the team, and I was dying to figure out how many elves were coding away at the MMMOOO Innovation Workshop. We looked forward to observing their behaviour, monitoring their habits, and if we got lucky, extracting their DNA to take back with us. What ensued was quite a humbling experience for the RIM team:

As you walk in, the slogan “Enrich Your Mobility” greets you into the world of MMMOOO. The 500 square-metre space took the concept of open office to a new level with long rectangular tables of designers and developers facing each other. You could easily tell one from the other based on the tools and IDEs open on their screens. Several smiling heads turned and greeted the visitors, but the level of concentration within the one-room office space quickly became apparent as the team of thirty or so developers immediately immersed themselves back into their work.

A small ping-pong table in the middle of the room, although abandoned at the moment, showed signs of heavy use. On the left, a modest lounging area, with several photo frames on the wall of various MMMOOO milestones (including BlackBerry DevCon Asia and the recent CHINICT hackathon). As they also sponsor D-Starine, a charity that serves Tibet and Qinghai province, he had every reason to be proud of showcasing their invaluable social contribution. Knowing Jonah and his team, they might even whip up an app to encourage the same.

Jonah introduced us to the rest of his team. They had folks dedicated on BlackBerry® WebWorks™ and HTML5 as well Native and Qt. They told us that they were glad we were supporting the Qt community, and were particularly excited about Cascades™ for its charming UI. There was no shortage of mobile devices on their desks, but the BlackBerry® 10 Dev Alpha was the only rarity, which they were fortunate enough to get at BlackBerry 10 Jam.

The conversation became more casual, and the RIM team went on to share some of their favourite MMMOOO apps ever built (my personal favorite is their BBM GIF Avatar creator), and we got a glimpse of some of the exciting new stuff that they were working on for BlackBerry 10 that I can’t share here yet.

Time flies when you’re with other developers. We had to start heading back, but of course there’s always time for a group picture. It’s quite fitting but paradoxical that the team deployed itself and posed in front of their Wall of Fame. Perhaps this very photograph might end up on that wall as well.

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