Buckle up BlackBerry fans, the BlackBerry OS and PlayBook tablets are up for a thorough face lift as Research In Motion puts a plan in motion to acquire The Astonishing Tribe, the Swedish design shop behind the original Android interface. The new design talent should help polish its software and achieve the level of dazzle required to attract the eyeballs glued to the beauty of of Android and iOS interfaces.

Swedish Android UI gurus will be tasked with improving the user interface for the PlayBook tablet, slated for arrival sometime in the first quarter of next year, RIM announced in a blog post.

The Astonishing Tribe is going to jazz up the PlayBook’s interface, says RIM

That’s a good news for all BlackBerry fans who have been looking with envy at the overal polish of iOS and Android. Here’s how RIM’s tech honcho David Yach described the Swedish team:

For those who don?t know, TAT is renowned for their innovative mobile user interface (UI) designs and has a long history of working with mobile and embedded technology. TAT focuses on delivering great user experiences, from a design, technology, and usability perspective.

Although design is a matter of taste and despite the fact that RIM tweaked the look and feel of its mobile operating system with the release of BlackBerry 6, for some smartphone owners RIM still falls short in the beauty department with its tad too corporate look.

In early October, we learned that RIM hired Don Lindsay, former designer with Apple and Microsoft. Lindsay’s appointment as RIM’s vice president of user experience is another indication of the company’s willingness to bolster its art department in order to better compete with the world’s greatest design shop – Apple.


The original Android interface, courtesy of the Swedish design shop known under the The Astonishing Tribe moniker.

If The Astonishing Tribes manages to do for the PlayBook tablet what they did for the original Android UI – that is, create a distinct and contemporary design language to stand on its own compared against Android and iOS – its chances of success will be that much greater. Let’s face it, looks matter in all facets of life and nowhere else is this more evident then in high-tech, where sexiness matters.

Naysayers should think twice before dismissing this acquisition, especially if The Astonishing Tribes’ augmented ID and cloth shader concept videos, embedded below, are any indication of their design expertise.