RIM buys Swedish UI developer to battle Apple’s iPad

Research In Motion (RIM) plans to acquire Swedish company The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), which specializes in developing user interfaces, according to a blog posted on Thursday.

TAT will help RIM develop the user interfaces on smartphones and its upcoming tablet, PlayBook, the blog post said. The acquisition is a good move by RIM, because user interfaces is an area where the RIM has lagged behind its rivals, according to Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight. TAT is good at building innovative user interfaces that are not just easy-to-use, but also make, for example, smartphones fun to use, he said.

TAT is especially excited about helping RIM develop the PlayBook’s user interface.

“I am not sure if our work will yield results in the first version that will come out this winter, but we will work on that product and future versions of it,” TAT founder Hampus Jakobsson told IT24, an IDG Sweden Web site.

The tablet market is getting increasingly crowded, and a user interface enhanced by TAT could help set the PlayBook apart from the competition, Wood said. The Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab has shown that you can’t just supersize the user interface on a smartphone to get a good user experience on a tablet, he said.

The deal is also a blow to Google and the Android camp, because TAT and its work has become increasingly valuable to the Android community, according to Wood.

RIM hasn’t announced any financial details.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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