And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
So ends King Harry’s speech before the battle of Agincourt in Henry the 5th. It is one of my favorite speeches in all of Shakespeare. I have been thinking of it a lot recently, because that lofty inspirational speech also is a wonderful metaphor for the challenge ahead of RIM and my team, and beautifully articulates the kind of passion I have for what we do every day.
Since I started with RIM last summer, my mantra has been “not business as usual”. We have set out to be the best company in mobile for developers. We have built an amazing team of people who work with developers because developers are smart, passionate, opinionated, outspoken, funny and genuinely interesting people. We know that developers are the ones who understand that it’s OK if you don’t get a UDP joke. For us, it’s not just a job. It’s a calling. Developers are our people.
This week was one of stark contrasts. Stark.
We kicked off our annual developer conference, BlackBerry® Jam Americas yesterday at the San Jose Convention Center. The energy in the San Jose conference center was a palpable reflection of the enthusiasm we have for what we do – I shook hands, met people, participated in a meet up with a bunch of Argentinean developers via video link, took photographs, was photographed – I even autographed phones. It was a huge blast.
We had some gifts for our developer community too.
- The news that BlackBerry 10 is API feature complete – devs can get to work in earnest on BlackBerry 10 apps.
- A preview of BlackBerry App World™ for BlackBerry 10, and how it will drive more sales and downloads for them.
- The news that some amazing big names, like foursquare and Cisco, are building for BlackBerry 10.
- Hard dates that they could build their own schedules for software delivery around.
- The launch of the 10k Reasons to Believe campaign.
- The launch of our BlackBerry Elite developers program.
- The launch of our new BlackBerryDev YouTube channel
- The upcoming BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour for enterprise
As I said, yesterday was a day of stark contrasts.
One of the gifts we made for our developer community was a music video. Marty, Chris, and I made a rework of REO Speedwagon’s Keep on Loving You with some tongue in cheek lyrics (how many singers do you know that can croon the phrase “mobile endeavours” with a straight face?). We did it because we hate those corporate “energy” videos that are such a staple of conference introductions everywhere, and because we knew that our community would love the humour. It was risky, but we had previously covered another song for BlackBerry 10 Jam Orlando, and the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour and our developer community loved that one.
This time we put it up on YouTube, on our new developer channel. And for the last 24 hours, our developer community has told us over and over again how much they loved that gift, and how much they appreciated the humor in it.
However, the mainstream media didn’t get it. Some called it weird. One outlet said that it would be the reason for RIM’s eventual demise – I had hoped for impact, but perhaps not at that scale. One commenter criticized my waistline. I know… I’m 48, and it is time to hit the gym more often.
I don’t expect the mainstream media to get it. They’re not developers. They don’t have the context. And frankly, what most want to write about is the drama around RIM.
My team and I, we wear our hearts on our sleeves for this community. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters, we’re making a difference. We have more than doubled the applications available on BlackBerry in 12 months. We announced 105,000 applications approved for sale on BlackBerry App World, yesterday, of which over 25,000 are PlayBook. We have more than doubled the size of RIM’s developer community in the last 12 months. And I know that if you ask any developer who builds for BlackBerry today, that our openness, and interaction with this community is dramatically different from what it was a year ago and that they love what we have done for them. This conference, BlackBerry Jam Americas, is a learning event, but it’s also a celebration of our community and we were there to celebrate their successes and ours.
This morning, reflecting on the situation, I realized that when we launch BlackBerry 10 early next year, the support and success of our developer community is all that will matter to me.
And those critics shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here.