BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that it has acquired Swedish UI design company The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) to spruce up its PlayBook UI.
RIM stated on its official blog We're excited that the TAT team will be joining RIM and bringing their talent to the BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphone platforms.
TAT has been behind the Android UI design of T-Mobile's G1.
The acqusition follows other high-profile purchases like QNX Software Systems, the OS which powers its tablet PlayBook and also its future smartphones. It also acquired DataViz maker of Documents To Go application in September.
RIM's strategy to move away from its BlackBerry OS is reflective of its decision to create an entirely different experience for users who associate its BlackBerry phones with enterprise phones. Also since BlackBerry OS application environment is based on Java ME platform with legacy extensions due its integration with enterprise market, app developers found building apps cumbersome for BlackBerry.
In its attempt to challenge the Android and iPhone, RIM has taken an altogether new approach using a new OS to create a more versatile device backed by a troop of developers willing to create apps for its devices.
In its scheme of things, it is appropriate that RIM uses talent from TAT to support its new QNX OS as it attempts to move its device from enterprise tag both in name - PlayBook - and UI.
In its earlier form RIM had utilized UIs for its BlackBerry phones that supported its trackball for navigation as for enterprise users speed was of essence. When it ported the UI to its touch screen-based Storm, it was not supported well on the device. Since it moves away from its keypad and trackball to touchscreen, it needs more expertise in creating a proficient UI.
The acquisition reveals that all things will be new at BlackBerry and not just the OS and hence, the need for UI expertise for RIM.