Last week the ‘net was hopping (and joking) about the news that RIM was talking up a web browser that would be able to handle full Flash and Silverlight. I mean, seriously, when your device locks up due to java memory leaks multitasking when running your current apps, the news came across as, well, a someday-maybe wishful thinking announcement. Who wants to use Flash or Silverlight if it is going to cause your phone to reboot?
Today, with the official announcement that RIM has acquired Torch Mobile, things just got a little bit clearer as to the direction the boys in Waterloo, Canada want to take with BlackBerry.
Since the iPhone came out (and now, followed by Android devices and the Palm Pre), BlackBerry has severely lagged behind in the web browser experience. No one wants a “mobile” web anymore. Instead, everyone wants the web — with little to no compromise — right on their smartphone. BlackBerry users have been patient — and forgiving — up to a point on this important feature. But no one could figure out why RIM was not doing more. Why was the company not putting out a proper web browser based on WebKit (like the iPhone, Android devices, and Palm Pre all use)?
Sure, there were alternatives: Opera Mini, Bolt, etc. Then there was the hope that SkyFire would be coming — if it ever finished testing (and if you don’t mind using a browser as a service). The purchase of Torch Mobile means that RIM can now utilize Torch Mobile’s Iris Browser and move away from the painful current BlackBerry Browser.
The Iris Browser leverages the WebKit rendering engine, providing a powerful, standards-based and Web experience that is consistent across mobile Web devices. Harnessing our extensive WebKit expertise, we made the Iris Browser small, fast and adaptable…you can access the full Web on resource-constrained device and get the same functionality as you would on a PC.
Thehas supports touch-screen control, a customizable interface, and “advanced security features” (RIM has always touted their security when dealing with enterprise clients in the government and financial sectors). Today’s announcement brings a little hope — but, is it too little too late? Will RIM be able to get this browser to market soon enough to ward off (more of ) their customers from moving on to the iPhone — or Android, WinMo, Symbian, Palm, etc.?
Each week brings more big announcements from RIM, but also highlights the ground that the company must cover to remain relevant and grow. These are big challenges for RIM. Push email alone won’t cut it anymore. Hopefully we will all get a glimpse of a (very) new and improved browser soon.
Via BoyGenius Report and