Research in Motion on Thursday said it was acquiring user interface experts The Astonishing Tribe to focus on the PlayBook and BlackBerry.
This small deal is another data point indicating that RIM is stepping up its software game. Now you can debate whether RIM's software efforts are a case of too little too late, but you have to acknowledge the company is trying to fix its weaknesses.
The Astonishing Tribe is essentially a UI design team that focuses on everything from consumer electronics to automotive applications.
It's obvious where this is heading for RIM. The company QNX software is garnering some initial buzz as the future operating system for the BlackBerry and the linchpin of the PlayBook.
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek gave RIM shares a boost earlier this week with talk about the potential for the QNX platform. He upgraded RIM from a hold to a buy. Misek wrote:
QNX better and earlier than expected: our checks indicate that the new OS provides a great browsing experience, is scalable so can address low end and high end, is easy to port Android apps to, and is more secure, and requires less bandwidth. Also, the transition to QNX will be faster than expected.
Until we actually get our paws on the PlayBook, the jury is still out on QNX, but there's no doubt that RIM is trying hard to catch up on the software front.
- RIM bought Torch Mobile to bolster its browser.
- RIM bought QNX for a next-gen operating system.
- And now RIM is buying a UI crew to make everything work together.
RIM's software effort will come down to execution, but on paper the company is moving in the right direction.
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