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RIM's WebKit Browser Gets Slightly More Real

Today Research In Motion took the opportunity to preview an early build of its new mobile browser for BlackBerries. The new browser's killer ingredient? WebKit, the same engine that powers the iPhone's browser and the Android browser. Welcome to the WebKit Club, RIM.
Today Research In Motion took the opportunity to preview an early build of its new mobile browser for BlackBerries. The new browser's killer ingredient? WebKit, the same engine that powers the iPhone's browser and the Android browser. Welcome to the WebKit Club, RIM.There's no question that the BlackBerry browser needs to get better. It can serve up HTML, but seriously lags the competition when it comes to rich features and overall user experience. The iPhone's browser has long bested BlackBerries, and the Android platform's WebKit browser is a close second to Apple's. With the swiftly gaining popularity of Android devices, RIM needs a way to compete. It apparently decided to take the "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" approach.

Rather than build a new browser from the ground up, RIM has decided to jump on the WebKit bandwagon. RIM co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis showed off the browser at the BlackBerry stand in Barcelona Tuesday during Mobile World Congress. His favorite feature? The speed. He said, "You'll see how fast it downloads, how quickly it renders and how smooth it scrolls and zooms in."

Currently, BlackBerry users are more efficient in their use of network resources. According to Lazaridis, the existing BlackBerry browser is three times more efficient than some other mobile browsers (hint, iPhone's and Android's). That's better for network operators. "Typical operators are likely to find their available spectrum completely consumed in the next three to five years," he said. With that in mind, RIM is working to optimize its new browser for wireless networks.

One thing Lazaridis might want to remember is that sure, its current browser is three times more efficient, but it is one-third as good to use. Which do you think is more important to RIM's end users?

The browser won't be available until later this year, most likely during the summer months.

Here's a video demo of the browser in action.