RIM buys TAT to polish up interfaces


Research in Motion (RIM) has acquired Swedish company The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), an interface specialist which played a part in the development of the basic appearance of Android mobile phones.

According to TAT, its software and designs were in 20 per cent of all touch phones shipped this year. However, the statement fell short of mentioning whether this was mainly Android variants.

In a blog welcome from David Yach, RIM's CTO, he said: "We're excited that the TAT team will be joining RIM and bringing their talent to the BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphone platforms."

To have made such a big play by acquiring interface specialists implies RIM is contemplating expansion of its established smartphone and PlayBook tablet portfolio. So far, TAT has been hired by the likes of Fujitsu to give a novel technological twist to their interfaces.

At the CEATEC expo in Japan last October, Fujitsu revealed a twin-screened mobile phone designed in conjunction with TAT. The screens could be used to display different information or as a virtual keyboard interface. This ensured the keyboard did not obscure the text display.

RIM's own plans will only be revealed in time but TAT has a broad vision of the interface marketplace. Beyond the twin screens, the team will be involved in developing ideas for flexible screens, e-ink displays and screens which sense their orientation in relation to other screens.