RIM Acquires Browser Developer Torch Mobile

RIM, the maker of the popular line of BlackBerry smartphones, has acquired Torch Mobile, the WebKit browser developer that’s most known for its Iris mobile browser that runs on Windows Mobile phones, for an undisclosed sum. WebKit is the open-source code that underlines many of today’s mobile browsers found on the Apple iPhone, Palm Pre, and Google Android phones.

According to Torch Mobile’s website, “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.” The site also explains that Torch Mobile’s team of skilled developers will continue to be active participants in the WebKit development community. It's unclear if the Iris browser will continue to be available for Windows Mobile users.

The BlackBerry browser has been criticized by some as being behind other browsers such as the iPhone’s Safari browser. Recent rumors have suggested that RIM is working on Flash and Silverlight support for its BlackBerry line, but many wonder if the company’s current browsers are up to the challenge.

Will this purchase by RIM be the first step in upping the competition for mobile browsers? Time will tell, but Torch Mobile’s developers could certainly be an asset for RIM.