BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) has hired a former Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) executive, Don Lindsay, as vice president of user experience. But we doubt that Lindsay is, as MocoNews reports, “one of the original masterminds behind the iPhone user interface.”
Lindsay worked at Apple from July 1994 through May 2003, as the design director for the Mac OS X user experience group. On his very detailed LinkedIn profile, he says:
Led the Mac OS X interface concept project and directed the Design team responsible for the User Experience for Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 including first generation iLife applications. Contributed to every Mac OS release from 8.0 through 10.3. Joined Apple in ’94 to focus on Speech UX.
No mention of the iPhone. If we worked on the iPhone, we’d certainly put that front-and-centre. (We’ve asked Lindsay for comment and will update if we hear back. Apple declined to comment.)
Wired‘s seminal story on the iPhone’s history suggests Apple didn’t start working on the iPhone in earnest until 2004, a year after Lindsay left. Moreover, even Mac OS X’s interface changed significantly between May 2003 and July 2007, when the iPhone was released. So even if Lindsay or his team did work on a very early iPhone prototype, it’s unlikely that what they worked on survived to the final, shipping version.
MocoNews does not list the sources it used to decide that Lindsay is “one of the original masterminds behind the iPhone user interface.” They deduced it:
At Apple, [Lindsay] 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.
Nope. Max OS X and iPhone OS, while sharing the common OS X roots, are not the same thing.
MocoNews also cites an old article from the Ottawa Citizen, which we can’t find online.
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.”
It is possible — even likely — that some members of the OS X team worked on the iPhone OS. But not necessarily Lindsay.
Maybe Lindsay was quietly the one who invented the iPhone user interface. But we doubt it.
Either way, probably a good hire for RIM. The BlackBerry user experience has much room for improvement, and Lindsay’s experience with desktop operating systems will be helpful as RIM builds out the next generations of its BlackBerry platform.