Canadian crackberry-maker RIM has announced the acquisition of Swedish user interface design specialist The Astonishing Tribe (TAT).
"For those who don't know, TAT is renowned for their innovative mobile user interface (UI) designs and has a long history of working with mobile and embedded technology," said RIM CTO David Yach.
"TAT focuses on delivering great user experiences, from a design, technology, and usability perspective. Their design technology is used today in a variety of industries including the consumer electronics and automotive sectors."
The UI is arguably the most important single feature of a smartphone, as it does the most to define the user experience. That's why otherwise excellent phones like the Nokia N8 continue to suffer in comparison to the UI king - Apple.
While we've yet to review a BlackBerry smartphone, general sentiment seems to be that the BlackBerry UI is also looking a tad old and tired next to Apple and Google's best efforts. So, while we don't know what RIM paid for TAT, this looks like a good piece of business for RIM as it fights to stop losing market share in the smartphone era.
Perhaps just as significant will be the tablet market, which RIM recently entered. Once more Apple is setting the pace here, and RIM will need to offer something pretty special to overcome the iPad's momentum. Here's a vid RIM made comparing the two.