BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has acquired startup tinyHippos and with it
Ripple, a mobile environment emulator that makes it possible to test mobile applications across various platforms.
The tiny team-from RIM's own hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada-has experience in Web, mobile Web and widget development, Tyler Lessard, vice president of global alliances and developer relations at RIM, said in
March 25 poston RIM's developer blog.
"We have been integrating support for Web technologies like HTML5 and BlackBerry WebWorks into our developer platform, and working to continually deliver enhanced tools and frameworks to our developer community," Lessard wrote. "We look forward to working with the team at tinyHippos to further provide a simplified and streamlined experience to our developers."
On the tinyHippos site, co-founder and CTO Dan Silvestru wrote the team was excited about its future at RIM and bringing BlackBerry support to Ripple.
"We also want to reassure all new and existing users that we expect that the Ripple product will continue to be offered for download and the team will continue to develop features, provide support and help grow the mobile-application developer community," wrote Silvestru.
In recent quarters, RIM's smartphones have faced tough competition from Apple and Android-running devices. Its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, scheduled to begin shipping April 19, is likely to face many of the same challenges-not only the need to deliver industry-leading hardware but a fully stocked applications store. In part to address this, RIM announced last week that the PlayBook would be able to run ported applications for Android 2.3, known as "Gingerbread."
"Developers currently building for the BlackBerry or Android platforms will be able to quickly and easily port their apps to run on the BlackBerry Tablet OS, thanks to a high degree of API compatibility," RIM said in a March 24 statement. "The new optional app players will be available for download from BlackBerry App World and will be placed in a secure 'sandbox' on the BlackBerry PlayBook where the BlackBerry Java or Android apps can be run."
From around the blogosphere have since come complaints about the PlayBook's lack of support for Android 3.0, or "Honeycomb," Google's version of the OS designed specifically for tablets.
During RIM's most recent earnings announcement March 24, co-CEO Jim Balsillie addressed RIM's more modest application numbers compared with the offerings-of varying quality and usefulness-stocking Google's and Apple's marketplaces.
"I'm really just not interested in this sort of religious application tonnage issue. I really think we've put that issue to bed," Balsillie said. "If you think the whole world's going to want to develop for Gingerbread, fine. But do I think that's going to happen? Then, why is there a different platform for tablets?"
Continuing on about "tonnage," he added, "All the tonnage in Android is in Gingerbread. It's not in -Honeycomb.' So you have to ask the real tough question: When are you going to see tonnage in Honeycomb, and how's it going to progress?"
Balsillie additionally described the PlayBook as "a winner" that RIM has thoroughly "future-proofed." And despite declining to offer guidance on how many units the company expects to sell, Balsillie said that a number of enterprise clients had reached out about ordering tens of thousands of units apiece.
Regarding RIM's purchase of tinyHippos, neither company disclosed the financial details of the deal.