RIM has already set out its stall for the tablet market with the unveiling of the PlayBook earlier this year. But while we all initially look at the hardware of any new tablet announcement, RIM also has plans to offer something different with the software and user experience.Proof that the PlayBook experience, and that of all future RIM devices for that matter, are set to get a design makeover, comes in the from of a new acquisition by RIM. Swedish design and technology company The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) has been acquired by the BlackBerry maker.AdChoices广告The TAT website makes it very clear what they do:We create the best performing, most astonishingly beautiful user interfaces for any screen and any device. We do this using awesome design, optimized technology, and constant experimentation with emerging technologies and paradigms. Now that “awesome” design team will focus exclusively on RIM platforms and devices.If proof were needed of TAT’s design credentials we only need look at their experiments on Android. In August they released the video you see below of a new interface design called Velvet which focuses on look and feel as much as functionality:There’s also the UI they helped create for Fujitsu’s swivel dual touchscreen smartphone:In the acquisition announcement, RIM’s CTO David Yach specifically names the PlayBook and smartphones as areas TAT will be involved with. We look forward to seeing their influence in future devices too.Read more at Inside BlackBerryMatthew’s OpinionAs we have seen with smartphones over the past few generations, they are all starting to look very similar. One rectangular block with a screen dominating one side. There’s some design nuance to make each recognizable from others, but ultimately they follow the same basic shape and layout. This is going to be the case with tablet devices too, where how thin, what color it is, and how many ports are included become the defining features.With that in mind the focus turns to the user experience. At the moment the main choice on smartphone and tablet is iOS or Android. Both are functional, and both have their fans. If RIM wants to compete in the tablet market then its user experience has to be second to none. The TAT acquisition shows the company realizes that and wants to produce something both memorable and highly usable.Will TAT be able to produce something that draws users away from Android or iOS? That’s a difficult task, but they can certainly produce a beautiful UI which draws the eye and gets people talking. That’s exactly what RIM needs and this is a clever buy.