RIM offers BlackBerry 10 device prototypes to developers

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Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) will give away prototype devices running its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system to developers who attend its BlackBerry 10 Jam event, beginning in Orlando, Fla., on May 1.

RIM stresses that the limited-edition device, dubbed the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, is not a BlackBerry 10 smartphone but rather a prototype running a modified version of the PlayBook OS enabling developers to build or re-conceptualize apps to run on the BlackBerry 10 smartphone form factor. "Just to be 100 percent clear--it's not the final hardware or OS for BlackBerry 10--it's a device to help developers get started with designing for what's coming," writes Alex Kinsella, RIM senior public relations and social media manager, on the Inside BlackBerry Developer's Blog. "BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha is only for developers--not end users--and is only available to developer attendees at BlackBerry 10 Jam."

In an interview with Bloomberg, RIM Vice President of Developer Relations Alec Saunders said the device maker plans to pass out as many as 2,000 BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha prototypes at BlackBerry 10 Jam. "It's a huge step forward on our path to eventually launching BB10," Saunders said. "It's tangible evidence of the company making progress to finally shipping the device."

Saunders nevertheless cautioned that the design of the prototype as well as its UI will be significantly different from the future BlackBerry 10 devices shipping to retailers: "The experience on this device from a consumer's perspective is not in any way indicative of what the final experience on BlackBerry 10 will be like," he said. "We are holding that back to create the interest around that at launch time." RIM is expected to begin shipping BlackBerry 10 smartphones in late 2012.

RIM will also supply BlackBerry 10 Jam attendees with the first BlackBerry 10 beta toolset release, including the BlackBerry 10 Native SDK, WebWorks SDK, SDK for Adobe Air and SDK for Android apps. BlackBerry 10 Jam registration is now open.

RIM is looking to BlackBerry 10--which will run on the same QNX-based software powering its PlayBook tablet--to reignite developer passion for its platform and recapture consumer interest. BlackBerry now makes up just 15.2 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, far behind Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android at 48.6 percent and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS at 29.5 percent.

For more:
- read this Inside BlackBerry Developer's Blog entry
- read this Bloomberg article 

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Research In Motion's Alec Saunders dishes on RIM's PlayBook update, BlackBerry 10
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RIM extends free PlayBook offer after new BlackBerry dev signups top 6K
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