updated 08:15 am EST, Thu December 2, 2010
RIM snaps up Astonishing Tribe for BlackBerry UI
RIM today said it had bought The Astonishing Tribe in a bid to improve its mobile interfaces. The Swedish design outlet is being brought onboard to help the UI on both its BlackBerry phones and on the PlayBook tablet. RIM's CTO David Yach didn't say how soon users could expect Astonishing Tribe's work to influence the design.
The team is best known for its work customizing the Android interface on the T-Mobile G1 from October 2008 and had focused primarily on custom Android layers ever since, such as the Cascades interface framework for apps and its Home widgets for the homescreen. It has focused on interfaces that are more heavily gesture-driven and which can take advantage of more advanced hardware, such as 3D graphics and physics. It's unmentioned but likely that the company will abandon Android and switch to a BlackBerry exclusive.
An acquisition of Astonishing Tribe hints at RIM being eager to turn around its reputation for aging interfaces, a liability which has cost market share and appeal as BlackBerry veterans have flocked to Android and iPhone instead. It already reworked its interface with BlackBerry 6, but it plans to bring the QNX-based roots of the PlayBook interface to its smartphone line and is likely looking to advance the experience as it transitions away from its legacy efforts.