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RIM Buys Android UI Gurus

Published on December 2, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Hoping to shake its reputation for aging or otherwise unappealing mobile interfaces, Research in Motion is bringing in some new design talent. The company has acquired The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), the Swedish design house behind the original Android interface as well as some other impressive concept UIs, like Velvet and Augmented ID, which uses facial recognition software to associate social information with anyone viewed through a smartphone camera (see video embeds below).

A small but brilliant acquisition that should give RIM some much-needed UI design heft as it further polishes its PlayBook tablet and whatever other next-gen QNX-based smartphones it has in the pipeline. For RIM, whose devices have seemed perpetually a generation behind the latest iPhone and Android handsets, TAT’s acumen could be just the thing to strengthen its competitive position and further the efforts of Don Lindsay, its new VP of User Experience (a former Microsoft and Apple hire)–assuming RIM’s willing to take some guidance.

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