Torch Mobile is best known for the Iris mobile browser, which is built upon the WebKit rendering engine. The browser also has a Web widget platform for things like Google Gadgets, Yahoo widgets, and other content providers.
"Torch Mobile's team of highly skilled developers has been actively involved in open source development and includes contributors, commiters, and reviewers of the WebKit project," Torch said on its Web site. "As part of RIM, these developers will continue to be active participants in the WebKit development community."
RIM's BlackBerry smartphones are widely considered to have the best mobile e-mail functionality, but the mobile browsing experience lags behind Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, and Palm's Pre, which all use browsers based on WebKit. The acquisition aligns with recent reports that RIM will be making a strong effort to bolster its browsers, including potential future support for Flash and Silverlight technologies.
The move comes as more and more consumers are using their mobile phones to browse the Web on the go, and this is leading to increased competition in the mobile browser space. While most people use the on-deck browser for their surfing needs, there is a growing market for third-party browsers.
With strong browsers, smartphones could eventually replace your laptop as a mobile computing device. InformationWeek analyzed how handhelds are becoming over-the-air portals for enterprise apps, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).