Why the Next BlackBerry Browser Won't Be So Terrible

It's loooong past time for RIM to shitcan BlackBerrys' stock browser. Today, a new patent for server-optimized browsing, combined with their obvious interest in WebKit, means they might be about to do just that.

The patent comes by way of the WSJ, and claims:

A system for enhancing network-browsing speed by setting a proxy server on a handheld device, comprising: a browser operating on the handheld device arranged to send a request for requesting a message from a first website; the proxy server provided on the handheld device; a wireless network communicably linked to the proxy server; and an intermediary server communicably linked to the wireless network

This is a server-side compression system, a lot like the ones Opera and Skyfire use to make their mobile browsers so incredibly fast. Those companies have managed to make the rendering good enough that it's nearly indistinguishable from uncompressed content, and I imagine RIM could pull off the same. But you can download Skyfire and Opera Mini for BlackBerry right now, so what's the big deal?

WebKit.

This is the rendering engine that powers the browsers in the iPhone, the Pre, Android and Symbian. It's under Chrome's hood as well as Safari's, and it's a veritable superpower, insofar as an obscure, underlying set of code can be called that. It renders well, and mobile sites are often optimized for it. This is also the engine that RIM is clearly building on from here on out, since they gobbled up company that only makes WebKit browsers, and put out a call for new developers to help work on a "develop a WebKit-based browser for the BlackBerry Platform."

Combined with server-side optimization, a BlackBerry's browser wouldn't just catch up with its competition—it could leapfrog it. BlackBerry software could be exciting, for once! Think about that. [WSJ]