BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion has quietly scooped up Don Lindsay, one of the original masterminds behind the iPhone user interface, mocoNews has learned. In his new role, he will be charged with “creating” the VP of user experience, according to his updated LinkedIn profile. Spokespeople at RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last month, RIM hired Lindsay from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), where he worked for five years as a design director for Live Labs and contributed to the Windows Vista user experience (See a related story on paidcontent.org on how Microsoft is dismantling Live Labs). But it is likely his eight years at Apple that was of more interest to RIM, where Lindsay’s work left a larger legacy on the mobile industry. At Apple, he led the Mac OS X interface concept project and directed the Design team responsible for the User Experience for Mac OS X. Simply put, that means Lindsay helped develop the iPhone interface. The Ottawa Citizen reported in July 2007 that Lindsay left Nortel in 1994 to join Apple, where “he hired the team that created the Macintosh Computer’s OS X operating system. Though Lindsay now works at Microsoft, where he runs a design group at Microsoft Live Labs, his influence at Apple would remain profound. His OS X team created the user interface for the iPhone.”
Lindsay’s hire is a big for RIM, which is facing steep competition from Apple, Microsoft, Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Palm (NSDQ: PALM) and others. While BlackBerrys have always been known for their simple interfaces and their ability to send emails and make phone calls with few clicks, clearly the iPhone has “consumer-ized” mobile devices even further by making web browsing and other tasks even easier. Lindsay’s rap sheet probably won’t hurt in bringing the devices to the next level. He’s been named inventor on “forty utility and design patents covering core user experience, application frameworks, mobility and speech user interfaces.”