Research In Motion (RIMM) is striking back. On the heels of Microsoft's unveiling of Windows Phone 7, a new mobile operating system, Research In Motion chief Mike Lazaridis announced a new array of SuperApps, a new browser for its BlackBerry series, and new servers aimed squarely at Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.
Lazaridis' announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona puts a spotlight on RIM's current goal: to gain market share among the wireless consumers that Apple and Google have been so fiercely courting.
With that in mind, Lazaridis announced that RIM, later this year, will debut a new browser, known as WebKit, which will download files quickly, display websites with faster rendering and allow users to scroll and zoom more smoothly. It's an important development, since one of the main criticisms directed at RIM over the past two years has been that its browser paled in comparison to others.
The process of improving the browser started in August, 2009, when RIM acquired Toronto-based Torch Mobile, a browser design firm, for an undisclosed amount. While no deal was ever announced, there had been some speculation recently that Microsoft could be interested in acquiring RIM. Critics of such a deal pointed out that such a merger would encounter difficulties, partly because there was little compatibility between Microsoft's mobile operating system and RIM's browser.
Now, the announcement that RIM is launching a new Web browser based on software from Torch Mobile may keep the speculation going. In the past, Torch's WebKit browser ran on Windows Mobile phones.
RIM Introduces SuperApps
During the conference, Lazaridis also spoke about the need for greater bandwidth and said that as wireless data usage grows, capacity is suffering. What that means is that there are more apps that don't work and more calls that get dropped. To resolve this, RIM is working to scale its handsets better so that users can access email more quickly and extend the life of their batteries.
The WebKit browser, as a result, is supposed to be more network efficient -- taking up less valuable bandwidth while providing superior performance.
Besides the new browser, Lazaridis also swung a punch at Apple's 100,000 or so mobile apps by announcing what he calls SuperApps. The idea: Its not quantity that really matters but getting the few apps you really love that is important.
So RIM is creating new apps that it thinks you will love more. These apps allow multitasking and sharing information among applications. For example, one SuperApp lets you send Twitter tweets right from your inbox. Another lets you transfer music automatically from a BlackBerry to a car's audio system using Bluetooth.