Summary:

A sign that BlackBerry maker RIM is looking for a step change in its device strategy: today it announced that it purchased Swedish-based use…

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A sign that BlackBerry maker RIM is looking for a step change in its device strategy: today it announced that it purchased Swedish-based user-interface designer The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), to contribute to work on its smartphones and PlayBook tablets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The news was announced earlier today on RIM’s blog.

Up to now, TAT has been working across a variety of consumer electronics products, including mobile handsets, incorporating features such as gesture navigation.

TAT was behind the UI for the first Android phone, the G1 from T-Mobile, notes Engadget. A more recent product is “TAT Home,” a custom home screen for the Android platform, incorporating both gesture navigation and 3D widgets. Such ideas will now get rolled into RIM’s own devices.

The purchase underscores RIM’s own ambitions and clear understanding that it will need to have something special in its arsenal when it finally launches the PlayBook. But the technology and flashy design that TAT will bring with it to RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) will undoubtedly also be a boost to RIM’s core business of handsets, too.

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