After following up on a tip from a source, N4BB has confirmed that Marty Mallick, BlackBerry’s VP of Global Alliances and Ecosystems, has left the company. Here’s the official statement N4BB received from BlackBerry:
“We can confirm that Marty Mallick has made the decision to leave BlackBerry as the company realigns the Global Alliances and Ecosystem group to focus more on enterprise application development. We are grateful to Marty for his contributions to BlackBerry and wish him well.”
Now, people leave companies all the time, and BlackBerry’s recent history is one of high turnover and change as CEO John Chen retools the company in an effort to keep it alive (current outlook: not bad!). But Mallick’s departure holds particular relevance due to his former position, and BlackBerry’s recent licensing agreement with Amazon to bring its Appstore to BlackBerry 10.
It was only six months ago that Mallick became VP of the newly formed Global Alliances and Ecosystems division, which absorbed BlackBerry World and the former Developer Relations group following Alec Saunders’s move to the new QNX Cloud Business division. At the time, I noted that the move was a shift in BlackBerry’s priorities away from native app development and the cultivation of a robust app ecosystem towards large deals and enterprise software services. It seemed clear that native consumer BlackBerry 10 developers should pay close attention to the company’s sea change.
BlackBerry has essentially opted to purchase Amazon’s consumer apps and services ecosystem than build its own.
With this week’s Amazon announcement, that shift is complete. BlackBerry has essentially opted to purchase Amazon’s consumer apps and services ecosystem than build its own. Considering how their previous attempts have fared to date, this is a very smart move to shore up its consumer offering — important for the BYOD customer — so it can focus on the enterprise apps and services that will fuel its future business. But the net result is a further deprecation of native BlackBerry 10 development and BlackBerry World. N4BB reports that it is unlikely that Mallick will be replaced, and I agree. As one former BlackBerry employee put it to me today, BlackBerry “no longer has a need for that kind of BD organization.”
(Interesting footnote: this is not the first time BlackBerry has been presented with this type of licensing deal. About a year ago it was rumoured that BlackBerry was in negotiations to get Google services on BlackBerry 10. The catch? BlackBerry had to swallow having the Play Store on BlackBerry 10, effectively killing the native BB10 ecosystem. For a variety of reasons, the deal ultimately fell through. The lesson as always: BlackBerry is a different company under Chen.)
The one caveat is of course enterprise app development. BlackBerry stated during its Amazon announcement that it would soon unveil a new “enterprise application partner program” for corporate developers, ISVs, and system integrators, to develop “business-class functionality and enhance users’ productivity, communication and collaboration.” Native BlackBerry 10 developers currently not building these apps should take a long, hard look at their future plans — either in making a switch to enterprise and productivity app development, or prioritizing other platforms. We’ve already seen popular consumer developers opt for Android ports of their apps rather than invest in native BlackBerry 10 development, what incentive do they have now with a lack of organizational support from BlackBerry and a competing app store on the same platform?
For it’s part, BlackBerry has reached out to us to say that more will be revealed about its newfound enterprise/productivity focus at a developer web jam next week. We’ll let you know the details as soon as we have them.
Disclosure: I previously worked for BlackBerry from 2009-2011. I can almost guarantee Marty Mallick doesn’t actually know how to play the keyboard.