Rumour has it BlackBerry’s senior VP of handheld software, Suresh Periyalwar, is leaving RIM due to the eventual transition to QNX for smartphones. After spending about 10 years working on the Java platform that powered BlackBerry, it makes sense that he would be on the way out. RIM is already in the process of laying off some 2,000 people in a streamlining process, and getting rid of old platform people is exactly in that spirit. This departure follows up on the COO’s retirement, and two more senior staff jumping ship for Samsung. The source indicating Periyalwar’s departure says there are plenty more executives planning to leave.
While I’m mostly optimistic about moves like this, which indicate RIM is trying to get the old out to make room for the new, I’m also worried that they’re ditching peope who are experienced and familiar with their product and development cycle. What if Periyalwar lacked confidence in QNX as the next generation of BlackBerry products, and left the company as a resut? The QNX OS made its debut on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, and though it gets high marks for performance, stability, and multimedia handling, there are still some serious feature gaps which would need to be filled before it migrated to phones.
If RIM is going for a clean break from the past, old thinking may prevent new processes and legitimately new products. I don’t think we’ll really be able to tell if this restructuring will be successful until Q1 2012 at the earliest, which is when we’re expecting to see the first dual-core QNX BlackBerry smartphones land. What do you guys think – are senior staff departures a sign of a sinking ship, or that they’re throwing dead weight overboard?