RIM Fires Up Browser Development with Torch Mobile Buy

BlackBerry maker RIM acquires WebKit browser developer Torch Mobile, known primarily for its Iris mobile browser. WebKit code underlies the browsers in many of today's smartphones, including Apple's iPhone, Palm's Pre and Google's Android phones.

BlackBerry maker RIM (Research in Motion) acquired mobile Web browser developer Torch Mobile Aug. 24 for an undisclosed sum. Torch Mobile, based in Toronto, developed the Iris mobile browser using WebKit, the same open-source code that underlies many of today's browers, including Apple's iPhone, Palm's Pre and Google's Android phones.

"Our team of developers will join RIM's global organization and will now be focused on utilizing our WebKit-based mobile browser expertise to contribute to the ongoing enhancement of the BlackBerry platform," Torch Mobile announced on the company's Website.

According to Torch Mobile, its developers will continue to be active participants in the WebKit development community even after its acquisition by RIM.

BlackBerry browsers have long been criticized as not being up to par with the browers in the iPhone and other high-end smartphones, and the Torch Mobile purchase may be RIM's first step in leveling the playing field.

The purchase follows reports earlier this month that RIM is planning on integrating full Flash and Microsoft Silverlight support into their BlackBerry Web browser.