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RIM Buys Torch Mobile, Big News for HTML5, Mobile Web

By Jason Grigsby

Published on August 24th, 2009


I nearly leapt out of my seat when I saw the news that Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the Blackberry, has bought Torch Mobile. This is big news for HTML5 and the mobile web.

Last month I wrote about HTML5 from a mobile perspective and noted that “the real barrier to HTML5 adoption is RIM’s Blackberry platform.”

After the release of the iPhone, RIM said that it understood the importance of having a rich browsing experience on Blackberry. It made vast improvements with the latest version of the browser. But even those improvements weren’t enough.

The reality is that RIM needed to change course when it came to its browser. It can’t carry the full burden of browser development and expect to keep up with Apple, Google and Nokia which base their browsers on open source software.

So the big news isn’t the purchase of Torch Mobile, but what it likely means for the Blackberry Browser in the future. Torch Mobile’s browser was built on webkit. This purchase would seem to suggest that Blackberry is going to stop developing its own browser rendering engine and start using webkit.

It’s going to take awhile for Blackberry to incorporate Torch Mobile and update its browser, but things appear to be headed in the right direction.