RIM acquires The Astonishing Tribe (tat) - Expect to see *AWESOME* UI on BlackBerry PlayBook and Smartphone Platforms!

By Kevin Michaluk on 2 Dec 2010 08:30 am EST

Research In Motion quietly announced some BIG news this morning via a blog post by RIM's CTO, David Yach. They have acquired tat - The Astonishing Tribe - which as David says:

Today we are pleased to confirm plans for The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) team to join Research In Motion (RIM). We're excited that the TAT team will be joining RIM and bringing their talent to the BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphone platforms. 

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. 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. Examples of TAT's UI designs and concepts can be viewed on their web site at www.tat.se.  

Man oh man, you gotta love the way RIM goes about its acquisitions. With acquisitions like Torch, QNX, and now tat, RIM is really pulling in all the pieces it needs to ensure BlackBerry will be fighting for a long time to come in the smartphone space. I'm sure tat has already been working on some RIM projects (PlayBook) prior to becoming part of RIM, but lets hope they go to work quick so you can see and use a little of tat's kick ass UI talent on your next BlackBerry in the (hopefully) near future. 

Reader comments

RIM acquires The Astonishing Tribe (tat) - Expect to see *AWESOME* UI on BlackBerry PlayBook and Smartphone Platforms!


While I am excited that it seems like they are trying to make the right moves, how long will it now take to get TAT's resources into the R&D path at RIM to the point that it has an effect on devices??? It could still be a while. Heck, how long was it between when QNX was acquired and we see the first device (PB) with it?

But, nonetheless, good job RIM.

In the world of acquisitions and integration to products/company that was actually pretty quick. They acquired QNX earlier this year and announced the PB in September utilizing QNX. I really don't get what people's expectations are but I would call that some hard work by all involved at RIM/QNX. Having done acquisitions before at my past 3 companies, I will tell you that it's something make noteworthy. Most companies take months, years in some cases depending on the size of the acquired organization and complexity of systems, to get them on their platforms. It's quite the feat that RIM pulled off with QNX.

just one problem...it will be years until the average BB user sees any benefit from this. RIM is always playing catch-up with the rest of the industry. OS6- another example. How may phones are actually shipping with this? I know the 9650 isn't yet. Why aren't all phones that are able to handle OS6 able to download it from RIM's website, like the new Apple OS? And then, they come out with a great phone like the Torch, and limit it to AT&T. How about the rest of us CDMA users, RIM? Tired of waiting for new stuff. I'm up for an upgrade in January, and if the 9650 isn't shipping with OS6 by then I'm afraid my next phone is an Android.

This is my first post to this forum but your post, Sir, is offensive in that none of the posts I've read so far are inappropriate or, for that matter, hateful towards RIM or any of their partners. Companies need to and probably want to hear the good, bad and the ugly from the user community. If RIM did not want to hear negative stuff I'd imagine they'd shut this forum down or ask Crackberry to take it off.

crackberry is an opportunistic sell-out company and does not represent RIM.

RIM is an awesome and very patient company... pls don't confuse them with crack(head)berry! :)

Yes everyone should be a BB Drone like you, keep their mouths shut, and just keep buying whatever crap RIM is selling. Even if it's the exact same crap that they've been selling for years. You sir are the perfect RIM customer.

That isn't fair AJ, brand loyalty doesn't predispose anyone to the rank of "drone". I don't mean to call you out but you do talk a lot about Android and that would classify you as a "drone" in that capacity using the same criteria that you applied. Yet, its only through this kind of discourse that companies get the best information (i.e. tech blogs). Got to give him some slack, sometimes we cling to what we believe defines us and take it personal when that's threatened. Even you have to recognize the frustration that's created when users trivialize the information they read and then reduce it to nothing. RIM is playing a good game of chess here. Setting up pieces with a sound strategy, these acquisitions speak volumes for the direction RIM is going.

On a lighter note; which Android did you end up getting? Not flaming you, just really would like to know.

Why do fanboys always gotta be blind to years of history of bad os "upgrades" and dropping support of devices in less than a year when they know most of the customers have 2 year contracts?

All I'm saying is, it seems like you already have your mind made up about RIM. If you want to leave, and get yourself a Droid, no one is stopping you. I'm happy with what my Blackberry does for me, and don't care for what Google has to offer with their phones and OS.

I think when it is all said and done, those that converted to droid or iphone or whatever other company, they will come back when they see what has evolved from these acquisitions.

You bring up some valid points. Just because RIM may be coming up with new things, it takes forever for the end user to see them and they most certainly handicap themselves by limiting new phones or OS's on a single carrier.

Apple doesn't let the carriers approve the OS before they release it. That's what takes so long with other manufacturers. It isn't the OEM that taking so long with OS6 or Froyo, it's each individual carrier that needs to approve the OS to run on it's devices and it's network correctly. You can't blame RIM, HTC, or Samsung for that. Blame Sprint, Verizon, & AT&T. Apple controls everything to do with its iCrap devices, so the release what the want when the want.

...."like the Apple OS"...."like the iPhone" *yawn* Apps don't integrate into the Apple OS. The Apple OS doesn't have push capabilities. The Apple OS is actually a lot less complex than the BB OS. Does any of this matter? No, obviously because it's always overlooked. I'm a smartphone fan; I want to see good technology produced from the big 3 because that benefits the consumer. However, compare them in comparable areas or at least acknowledge the complexities in the areas that aren't comperable.

OS 6 is already available for 9650... albeit leaked but its out there... its usually not RIM who is slow with the OS.. but the carriers who internally will test the OS themselves (and customize by adding their own theme... etc) before releasing it to the general public (which takes time).

As discuss numerous times on numerous of forums... OS 6 is not avaliable to every device because not every device can handle it... the fact that they will release OS 6 for the 9700, 9650, 9330/9300 and 9100 is just as an added bonus to their past customers, in no way does rim 'profit' or benefit from this...in a way they are 'doing you a favour'... they could be spending time doing new things but they want to help out their old customers....

it just sucks seeing how people think they are entitled to stuff... in this case.. everyone feels they are entitled to a blackberry with the latest os....

That was one COOL commercial. That's really all I can comment on because I have NO idea how long any of this will take to actually get to ME the consumer of RIM products. I can say the day it does I'll be really happy because those "phones" if you can even call them that looked CRAZY! Technology is advancing so much everyday & everyone can say that RIM is so far behind but seriously think about it, the day something hits shelves it's already behind the times because people are already working on the "next big thing." Stop complaining about what you DON'T have & be happy for a change with what you DO have. Because whoever dies with the most, expensive, advanced toys...still dies after all.

If this company is the future of Blackberry, Then that phone or device theyre using should be in the blackberry family. Nuff Said

Hmm "Man on man" or "Man oh man"?

About the idea...LOVE some of the concepts. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see some of these.

*sigh* rolled out of bed and blogged this before my morning cup of tea. nice catch.  just testing to see if anybody is reading... you win! ;)

verbal review coming today via podcast.  written review coming tomorrow!

sorry for the dealys. site redesign/post redesign tweaks killled my time.  

There is no reason for you to appologize for anything on this site. You could write a review of your previous crap and we shouldn't complain. Thank you for all you have done.

I do have one complaint about the site though (Pre redesign and post). When I click to reply to a message, I get brought to a new screen and start typing and after about 3-5 seconds, the page does some weird stuff and jumps to the bottom of the page. There have been many times that I've pressed backspace at this point and went back to the previous page and had to find the post that I was replying to again. BTW, I use IE9 but it used to also happen on IE8.


Now RIM has QNX and TAT to make remakes of the remakes!

I see it:
The new BB Bold 9790 - now with:
-6Mpx. Camera
-650MB memory! ;)

lolz! *sigh* god i love my BB but i would love it if just once RIM released a cutting edge device that was the leader of its category. hopefully this new acquisition will help the cause...

Acquisitions are all well and good. But as we all remember RIM also acquired Viigo, a move which leaves users feeling a little like they've chosen to Squash development rather than embrace the fact that other companies have the ability to DO Better then RIM on their own platform. I have always been a RIM supporter, but recent law suits and acquisitions have me scratching my head wondering just what exactly they are planning !!

Why not trust them? With an acquisition like this, and a device like the BlackBerry, do you think they would be so stupid to just squash it?

I say trust because this IS a company who, despite what some of the idiots who hate might say, created one of the most brilliant devices on the market today.

I am just being skeptical. I agree Blackberries are brilliant devices and would not be without mine. But we all have to agree RIM is not very friendly when it comes to other companies developing superior apps !! Anyone who uses the social feeds app for rss feeds will agree Viigo was far superior and seems to be no longer supported in OS6. I am by no means a RIM hater, I just feel they have a tendency to ignore what the end user wants in some cases !!

From my understanding Viigo was purchased for the technology for Social feeds in OS6 so no need for a 3rd party client in OS6 I personally like Social Feeds, was never really a Viigo fan, the Lawsuit you are referring to against KiK if you actually take the time to read is more so about an Ex BBM developer starting a company to compete with BBM, and having a few flaws in it's design implementation that gave it a bad name ( searching your address book and blindly adding other Kik users) It is in RIM's best interest to go after KiK to prevent other RIM staff from leaving and attempting to build a competing application potentially using RIM's proprietary technology.

I do agree RIM does ignore many user demands, but then again users demand lots of unrealistic things. so they do have to pick what they listen too and how it fits into their business plan

Yes I have taken the time to read the Law Suit against Kik ... And yes one of the Kik developers was an ex (co-op student) That being said RIM was aware of this when they were working with Kik in development of their cross-platform app... I am neither supporting or condemning Kik, but have to make the point that until RIM realized this might draw users away from BBM they even had it in App World ... I also do like the Social Feeds app to a point, but there does need to be the option to save rss feeds for for future reading ...

Supposedly the Viigo acquisition had no effect on Social Apps. Hopefully it will be implemented in a future update. I loved Viigo, but have grown to like Social apps better, but it may also just be the use of the webkit that I like. Anyways, there are definitely features that are missing from Social Apps and hopefully they will be added some time in the near future.

For instance, the rumor is Apple acquired 3 or 4 high-end sales mangers/directors from RIM and RIM needs to make a statement; if you leave RIM you cannot use RIM technology for your own benefit or the benefit of another company.

I can't stand the haters. It's making it less appealing to even check these blogs out anymore. I never really go to Gizmodo or Engadget anymore either because it's iOS-ONLY. Anything else is hater-bait.


[Off topic rant] no kidding! Everyone in Northwest IN has an iphone. All the companies I know (including banks) and getting iPhones for their managers. My company purchased cancelation contracts with all "opting managers" (approx. 800 managers) to purchase them all iPhones. Now when I talk to those managers, ALL they do is complain about how their phone is really cool but can't provide the reliability, dependability and consistency of a Blackberry.

I of course, opted out of iPhone and stuck with ny 9700.

Disclaimer: while I respect the iPhone, you have to do that, it clearly cannot match nor come close to what a Blackberry does. And I must admit, Blackberries are not geared for the average non-business/prductivity end-user, it is making leaps and bounds toward it.

It seems like they are putting a lot of work into the playbook and the even newer QNX os. Hope all this hard work will pay off in the end. Don't hate on the "haters" or the "fanboys". We all like our device for some reason or another. Me I have put OS 6 on my 9700 and I like it, it does still need tweaking and some fatures I could do with out but what phone doesn't have its baggae.

Despite all the awesomeness around what has been done by these guys I really want to see what they are capable to do with RIM's devices.. See to believe. Until then they're just one more to the pile.

This great news, but, like it was pointed out, it will be that much longer until we see it on a phone! I hope they can "move mountains" between now and 2Q11 so we can experience this great new RIM on a 4G LTE Storm!

For all those who are griping that this won't have any immediate effect on their user experience............ Do you really think that is news? Of course it isn't going to make a difference in your current handset. Why would an OS that uses completely different hardware and a totally different architecture have any effect on your current outdated device?! (and FYI, if your phone has been on the market for more than a few months, it IS already outdated.)

When Samsung or Sony acquires a new tech firm or comes up with a new UI or OS for their televisions do you expect them to come out and upgrade the TV sitting in your living room? Of course not! Or if Intel comes up with a new chipset, do you expect them to install it in your computer at home? When Microsoft comes up with their next version of windows, do you expect them to just give it to everyone who owns a windows PC? NO. You just have to wait for the next iteration of technology and buy it like everyone else. So why is it that you think RIM should be held to a completely different standard than every other tech company out there?

This is thinking for the long term. RIM is obviously moving into a completely new direction in regards to their QNX OS. That takes time (if it is done right). End users will see benefit from this in the future but not right now. Until then just move to a platform that currently offers what you want instead of griping about how RIM isn't instantly giving you what you want right now. There are quite a few OS's and UI's out there that offer more than what RIM can right now. But that doesn't mean that they will NEVER come up with something new and innovative. It just means that someone has decided to finally take their time and do it right. (I hope...)

How long did it take Apple to finally release the iPhone? It was in the works for nearly a decade!! So how is it you think we will benefit from RIM rushing something to market? Apple had all kinds of issues with their prototypes and early concept models. That's why it took them so long to bring it to market. But now that it is here, I think we can agree that it was worth the wait.

The same will likely be said of RIM once they release their next generation of technology. However long it takes. Despite all the naysaying from the crybabies and fanboys.

Wish more people had your type of mentality. It's so annoying coming on to this site reading people's complaints or hater comments. Even more annoying is the people feeling the need to tell everyone that they're jumping ship.

If you don't like RIM or Blackberry, so be it. Find the platform that suits your needs and likes. I, for one, want to be able to enjoy the possibilities RIM has in store.

I agree. BUT—saying you're jumping ship isn't a bad thing IF you say why. It might sound like whining to some people, but I for one have learned a lot about other phones in the market from people who left BlackBerry for something else. I've also learned a lot about BlackBerrys from people who refute these cases. It may be in a negative atmosphere, but in the end, everyone learns something from it ;)

But I want it now! NOW! NOW! NOW! Much in the way that the people who never bothered to learn about QNX started screaming that it should be available today for their phones.

The impressive thing to me for RIM's latest moves is that they are doing this while still experiencing ridiculous growth levels.

Nokia has seen their virtual lock on the industry four years ago vanish and it's only now that they are starting to change the company. Microsoft saw a similar decline before they started to retool their OS.

RIM is making a very bold move to switch to a microkernal OS while still reaping large revenue gains from their current OS. That tells me they are still focusing on the future of the industry and their company.

"Hey Kevin"

The site looks great! seriously, but the man on man thing just made my morning. lol
and as for the TAT preview in the life of 2014 - I couldnt have imagined a better UI for any Mobile/desktop OS. As a Designer I am thrilled about technology and has been my dream for years now to get the artist back to the Drafting table. Complete Hands on experience with layout and conception. Really cant wait!!


too little too late... it will take RIM like 5 yrs + to implement anything that TAT may bring to the table... by then, RIM will be dead anyways from all the lost market share...

See, these are the posts that people complain about because they are complete BS. RIM is doing VERY well right now. They have been increasing their profits and selling more devices than ever. Of course their market share is going to decrease, they had close to 50% at one point! They now have Apple, Android, Microsoft, Palm/HP, and other smaller OSes to compete with. Market share isn't as important as people make it out to be. In about 5 years, when the dust settles, it will be, but right now it just doesn't mean that much. It's all about profits.

Also, RIM is making some MAJOR changes with the QNX OS which will be on the PlayBook, and rumored to possibly be on the next Storm. They have also proven that they are going to look more closely at their hardward specs and try to be a little more groundbreaking. If you don't see some major promise from RIM, then it's time to wake up!


....a former Blackberry user that is anxiously awaiting something from RIM to bring me back.

Is it just me that while the ad is amazing, makes me worry that everbody will find out Sweden won the world cup via the news and not watching the game???

This is a pretty shrewd move by RIM. Hopefully they can get a phone-based QNX UI up and running and shipped in the next 3 months.

Yea this will not happen for at least a decade and by then Android and Apple will have matched it. This is more about trying to get hyped about something thats not coming anytime soon, they need more space on phones to hold 6.0 without shutting down and ect

I am not a RIM hater, on the contrary I'm a current user. Just saying they're slow. Like the poster above, talking about the OS on the Playbook- when, exactly will the Playbook come out? One full year after Apple came out with the iPad? In fact, Apple will have the second version of the iPad out before RIM has its first. I am not an Apple lover, the i Pad is the only Apple product I own. I still use a Curve 8330 because there is nothing to upgrade to, except maybe a 9650, and then wow, I get a trackpad, big deal- still no OS6.

I really believe the handwriting is on the wall for RIM- they will not go away of course, but Android will probably take 50% of the market soon and RIM and Apple will split the rest. Apple will be relegated to a niche status because of their refusal to open up the platform, and RIM will have niche status because they are so slow to market and always a "me too" device. Having said all that, I will probably stick with a BB because my use is 80% business and I need the messaging.

More importantly, it's coming out less than a full year after they acquired QNX. So in other words, they're going to market with the first version of a product about a year after they decided to bring it to market. Stating that Apple is bringing out rev 2 of iPad is not relevant - because when Apple started working in iPad, RIM wasn't even considering creation of a tablet.

I mean - if you look at it that way, it's more fair to point out that it's taken Apple a year to make an incremental improvement to their existing platform; whereas RIM is bringing a completely new product and OS out in that same time ;)

Unbelievable!!!!!!!! That UI is nice and simple, will definitely beat out Apple UI if it comes on PlayBook (I don't want to see it on my Bold 9700, I love the keyboard). Funny thing is Fredrick used Keyboard and mouse from Apple to edit the image :))

" We have to admit, pairing the rock solid foundation of the QNX-built PlayBook OS with some top-level spit-shine from a company specializing in exactly that has us legitimately excited. Who knows, maybe we'll even see a BlackBerry with a user interface that someone other than a BBMer could love."

Quoted from the boys over @Engadget. They seem to be excited about what RIM is about to do since they're usually bashing on Blackberry's and RIM. I wonder what all the haters will drum up next. I'm just stoked to see RIM advance in such a capacity. They have big plans over there at Waterloo and only time will tell cos good things always come to those who wait.

I wonder how much change between now and the eventual release of the playbook (QNX OS) will they have a say in. Will development be pushed further away to accommodate. Or would their focus be more on the eventual release of QNX on smartphones where bits and pieces of that will translate into tablets later on in the year.

Interesting news. I remember watching that vid a few months back and thinking that was cool but not wanting all those things but at least they are thinking outside the square about user interfaces

rim seems to be aware of all the technology , just lag behind implementing. why didn't we get an amoled screen with the torch? they come so close then drop the ball!! hope they catch up!!

Impossible to get hype over this and they cant even put enough memory on a phone for apps and message now....RIP Indeed....SMH

that was the most innovative design for...anything in fact. if rim could make that...the only word for it is wow.

So I have always supported Windows based phones, and still will once HTC has a great device. However I love my BB 9700 and can't see me parting company with RIM anytime soon, in fact I have been looking for a tablet for a bit and kinda was waiting to see the 2011 line up running WP7/Windows 7 or Android, but I must say I am now more interested in getting a PlayBook. And no I don't want a device like the iPad (too many missing functionalities for my liking). As far as Apple products go I jailbreak them for friends to get them out of their misery, but kept an iPhone for only a month before I had to find a buyer. So for me until Microsoft offers something better I will stick with BlackBerry.

The video is exciting, a bit generic looking. The mirror would be awsome if it were real, I'd deffinately have those in my house. My question is, just what devices have they developed UIs for? I just wanted to get a better idea as to what this company has accomplished in the past. If anyone knows, please do share.......